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Privatization approval for Gulf carrier

Kuwait Airways gets go ahead after parliament approved privatization plans in yesterday's National Assembly meeting.

Plans for the privatization of Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) were approved by the National Assembly's financial and economic affairs committee yesterday with an complete asset evaluation to take place within two years.

The process will involve a 40% sale of the state owned company to citizens in a public subscription, a further 40% allocated to strategic investors and the remaining fifth of the firm to be retained by the government, the Kuwait times reported on Monday.

The draft law will be finalized on Wednesday, according to MP Ahmad Baqer, after it was agreed that a specialized international firm would carry out the evaluation of the company.

Abdulwahed Al-Awadhi, State Minister of Housing and National Assembly Affairs, said KAC will continue to lease carriers in the short term and will hold off on the purchase of a new fleet until the corporation had been fully privatized.

Al-Awadhi said MPs were in agreement on all facets of the plan, save for the issue of whether to run the evaluation parallel to the privatization or not. He did say, however, that it was high time the company went public.

Contention over how to handle the evaluation issue had previously hindered progress of the law, though all MPs agree that a fair evaluation must be attained before the bidding process can begin so as to protect the public funds involved.