The Kuwaiti premium service carrier is finalising preparations for its launch in January, by outsourcing various operations to streamline the business and cut costs.

The company signed an eight-year agreement with the Belgian maintenance group Sabena Technics in September.

It will follow that with deals to outsource its ground handling, catering and IT operations (MEED 27:6:08).

Wataniya’s chief executive officer George Cooper says it will appoint a mix of local and international groups to take on the company’s ground-handling operations.

“We are progressing on all three [ground handling, catering, and IT], and have begun signing ground-handling agreements. We will make a full announcement when they are all done,” he says.

“The strategy hasn’t changed. We will outsource these operations before we begin flying.”

Cooper says the airline remains on schedule to list on the Kuwaiti stock exchange “within four to six weeks”, and is undeterred by the financial turmoil on global markets.

Wataniya sold 70 per cent of the business in an initial public offering in 2006.

“We have seen wild fluctuations and some irrationality in the markets but the fundamental basis of this business is strong and we feel it is not before time that we give our shareholders the chance to start trading on their investment,” he says.