The new carrier, which is targeting the short-haul premium business and leisure market, will launch with two Airbus A320 aircraft, adding three more leased planes in 2009 and a further six planes over the subsequent two years.

Established in 2006 with share capital of KD50m ($189m), Wataniya is 70 per cent owned by the general public following a sale that year. Kuwait Projects Company and other corporate investors retain a 30 per cent stake.

The airline’s shares will be listed on the Kuwaiti stock exchange later in 2008, ahead of the launch.

The airline will offer a two-class configuration on routes around the Gulf and the wider region.