x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

The expansion under way at Kuwait International Airport, a hub for Kuwait’s budget airline Jazeera Airways and national carrier Kuwait Airways, is expected to increase annual capacity to 13 million passengers by 2016.

Flydubai flies eight times a day between Dubai and Kuwait City. Randi Sokoloff / The National
Flydubai flies eight times a day between Dubai and Kuwait City. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Flydubai passengers on flights to and from Kuwait City will be able to make use of the VIP terminal usually reserved for private jets amid a US$6 billion expansion at the main airport terminal in the capital.

The expansion under way at Kuwait International Airport, a hub for Kuwait’s airline Jazeera Airways and national carrier Kuwait Airways, is expected to increase annual capacity to 13 million passengers by 2016. Currently, it handles 6 million passengers a year.

A new $3bn terminal building will be added to the main airport. Kuwait’s directorate general of civil aviation will spend another $3bn to widen runways and set up a new cargo facility, among other upgrades.

During the expansion phase, the directorate is encouraging airlines to move to the Sheikh Saad Al Abdallah General Aviation Terminal.

Among the airlines currently using the main terminal are Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines, Sharjah’s Air Arabia and Emirates.

The Saad Al Abdallah terminal was opened in 2008 to cater to private flights as well as the publicly traded Wataniya Airways that flew to destinations in the Arabian Gulf, Middle East and Europe. However, it stopped operations in March 2011 because of “financial disorders and lack of cash liquidity”, according to the Kuwaiti airline’s website.

Since then, the terminal has mainly operated private jet and helicopter services.

Flydubai started operating from the new base last Saturday. Starting its operations to Kuwait with two flights a day in 2010, the airline now flies eight times a day between Dubai and Kuwait City. It carries 1 million passengers a year on the route using its Airbus A320 aircraft, flydubai said.

The passenger numbers for flydubai’s Kuwait sector grew by 31 per cent last year. About 84 per cent of them end their journey in Dubai while the rest connects to other destinations on flydubai’s network, such as Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India and Georgia, the airline said.

At the new terminal, it will take about 25 minutes for economy class passengers to pass through immigration, pick up luggage and exit the terminal, and about 10 minutes for business class passengers, according to flydubai.

The airline will introduce its business class services on select flights to Kuwait starting next month.

ssahoo@thenational.ae