Kuwait Airways board resigns

The board of directors of the embattled Kuwait Airways, headed by ruling family member Sheikh Talal Mubarak al-Sabah, resigned on Sunday 9 September following differences with the government over a multi-billion-dollar deal to buy new aircraft. The Kuwaiti government has accepted the resignations, state minister for cabinet affairs Faisal al-Hajji said.

In June, the airline signed a memorandum of understanding with Kuwait's Aviation Lease and Finance Company (Alafco) to purchase 19 planes worth $3 billion (Rs12,144 crore). The government scrapped the deal last month, because it wanted Kuwait Airways to buy the planes directly from the manufacturers.

The deal was part of a plan by the state-owned airline to modernise its ageing fleet of 15 Airbuses and two Boeings. The oil-rich emirate's parliament and the government agreed in early July to debate a bill that would transform the loss-making airline into a public company operating on a commercial basis.

But the debate was delayed till the next parliamentary session, which opens on 30 October. There appears to be overwhelming support for the plan, which would see more than 70 per cent of Kuwait Airways stocks sold to the emirate's citizens.

The airline has made more than $2 billion (Rs8,096 crore) in losses during the past 17 years, and has repeatedly come under fire from parliamentarians who have accused the corporation of squandering public funds.

In July, parliamentarians approved a recommendation by a three-MP inquiry committee, which called for top airline executives to be referred to the public prosecutor over alleged financial and administrative irregularities.