The carrier, which is targeting the short-haul premium business and leisure markets, plans to launch its first flights early in 2009 and will list on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) in the fourth quarter of this year.

Kipco will now take over as lead manager and prepare the business for the flotation.

Wataniya was created in 2005 with share capital of KD50m ($189m). Following a sale in 2006, the company is 70 per cent owned by the general public, with Kuwait Projects Company and other corporate investors retaining a 30 percent stake.

The airline plans to launch with two Airbus A320 aircraft, leasing three more planes next year.