Boosted by a sharp increase in passengers, Kuwaiti hybrid airline Jazeera Airways posted a 2018 net profit of KD8.7 million ($28.6 million), up 5.7% compared to a net income of KD8.2 million in 2017.

The airline carried 2 million passengers in 2018, a 42.8% increase year-over-year (YOY), and load factor was up 1.3 points to 75.2%.

Operating revenue rose 45.5% YOY to KD82.4 million compared to KD56.6 million in the previous year.

Fuel prices climbed 30% YOY, with Brent crude reaching a peak of $86 per barrel, the airline said. The carrier said it also faced stiff competition in the region.

“Jazeera Airways remained resilient despite these challenges and maintained zero debt by year end,” chairman Marwan Boodai said.

Jazeera added seven destinations in 2018 to serve a growing customer base, especially in the Indian subcontinent.

“The expansion has enabled Jazeera Airways to grow from carrying passengers point-to-point to and from Kuwait, to routing passengers through the Kuwait hub to their ultimate destinations,” Boodai said.

The airline took delivery of the first Airbus A320neo in the Middle East and placed an order for an additional three aircraft.

“We also achieved another important milestone in the development of our business model, which is the inauguration of our dedicated terminal at Kuwait International Airport,” Boodai said. “We are now able to invest in and roll out new customer-centric services that have started to show direct results in customer satisfaction and also in the bottom line.”

Since it opened in May 2018, the airline processed 1.2 million passengers through the new Jazeera Terminal.

In 2019 the carrier plans to expand its network to new destinations in Europe, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Gulf.

Kurt Hofmann,