Jazeera Airways started flight operations in 2005 and grew modestly until 2017, reaching 17 destinations with a fleet of seven aircraft. Since 2017, the airline has grown dramatically. It now flies to 55 destinations with 19 aircraft. Romana Parvi, Regional Manager, South Asia, Jazeera Airways, shares more on the latest developments at the airline.
Like all other airlines of the world, Jazeera Airways was not immune from the effects of the pandemic. At the beginning of the lockdown, the airline took some painful yet necessary steps to control costs. As a result of this and after some very innovative commercial decisions and the dedication of the Jazeera Team, they quickly returned to profitability in the second half of 2021. They recently announced their nine-month 2022 results with a group Net Profit of KD21.76m, carrying 2.6 million passengers at a 76.4 per cent load factor.
“We have restored our business post-pandemic and made strong growth as reflected in our financial performance. This has been stimulated operationally with the launch of 11 new routes since the beginning of the year and bringing of an additional two aircraft into the fleet. We operate a fleet of 8 x Airbus 320 and 11 x 320neo,” shares Romana.
Jazeera also owns and operates its terminal in Kuwait – Jazeera Terminal 5. It gives end-to-end airline control of the passenger experience. The terminal itself contributes to around 20 percent of the overall group profits. With their route expansion, they just finished a major phase of expansion in their terminal, which would up the capacity from 3 million passengers to about 4.5 million passengers.
Completing five years in India, Jazeera has quickly established itself in the India market. Currently, Jazeera Airways serves Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, and Thiruvananthapuram. “Indians constitute the largest ex-pat population in Kuwait, and we would like to fly to at least 15 cities up from the current 8 destinations, including tier 1 and 2 cities in India. Presently, with the Indian travellers starting to travel again, our average load factor ex India is 85 per cent. India is one of our top source markets and also one of the highest projected growth markets,” informs Romana.
Jazeera Airways has a great network connection in the Middle East region for travellers from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Based on this, the India market for Jazeera Airways is important, given that there is a big Indian diaspora and tourist movement from India in the region. Romana says, “The response for our leisure and MICE has been very positive and growing amongst the Indian population. We are seeing Turkey, Egypt and Azerbaijan emerge as high-demand destinations on our network from India. We are continuously reviewing the opportunities in the India market and working upon them to meet these demands.”
On the marketing front in the India region, post-COVID, the airline has been actively participating in various trade shows in Indore, Raipur, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Chennai. They also participated in events like the Wedding Travel show in Dehradun to connect with their trade partners, renew their old associations, and make new associations. The airline has also conducted various FAM trips for their partner agents to Baku and Istanbul to showcase these destinations on their network. The airline is also working with leading Indian banks that offer passengers a discount on tickets and are looking at EMI options with some banks for tickets. The Jazeera brand is becoming more familiar to Indian travellers. Their advertising campaign is now seen online and on posters and heard on radio stations in all key cities.
Recently, the airline has been scaling up its services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). In this aspect, Romana says, “The demand for flights to KSA has grown and we’re pleased to offer more choices to the Kingdom for Kuwaiti travellers. The momentum is expected to continue as events and festivals resume in the Kingdom for the cooler months. There are strong ties between Kuwaiti and Saudi families, and we now offer a flight for them to connect rather than take to the highway. We are also working with the Saudi Tourism Authority to support marketing its events calendar in the Kuwait market to attract travellers. We hope to expand that relationship into the India market.”
Indeed, one of the airline’s biggest areas of expansion has been to the KSA. Jazeera currently flies to eight cities in the KSA, and in the next three months, they plan to fly to three additional cities in the Kingdom. They operate 11 flights for Umrah daily, making the airline probably one of the largest Umrah operators in the KSA.
Also, many of Jazeera’s routes today are to second and third-tier cities in Central Asia that are very profitable, such as Osh in Kyrgystan. The airline will soon be launching flights to Turkistan in Kazakhstan, as it has the potential for Umrah traffic. These routes are not high profile but are profitable and benefit that particular country and the KSA. They will also look at new route points next year in Iran: Tehran, Shiraz, and Isfahan. Within the next 12 months, the airline is looking at around 15 new routes from Kuwait.
Jazeera Airways has placed a new fleet order with Airbus for 20 A320neos, 8 A321neos, and five further options. The order will effectively double Jazeera’s current fleet size to 35 aircraft, further supporting the airline’s expansion plans to boost its contribution to Kuwait’s travel sector.
Speaking about the future growth plans in India, Romana says, “We started our operation to India in the winter of 2017 with flights to Hyderabad. This winter 2022, we complete five years of operations and are connecting to eight cities in India. We would like to increase our flights into India but at the moment we are limited by the bilateral agreements between India and Kuwait. We hope that capacity will be increased in the near future.”