Kuwait-based Jazeera Airways substantially increased its profit figures for the 2019 first half, as the hybrid carrier continued to expand its route network and prepared to launch its first service to Europe.

The airline reported a KD6.2 million ($20.4 million) net profit Aug. 5, more than four times greater than the KD1.4 million recorded for 1H 2018. Revenue rose 37.4% to KD47.3 million and passenger numbers grew by 20% to 1.1 million.

One factor behind the improved figures is fleet utilization, which has risen steadily in the past two years and stood at 14.8 hours in 2Q 2019.

Load factor has also improved significantly over that period. Jazeera was traditionally profitable with load factors in the 60% range, but in the last quarter these reached 77.6%, up 3.9% on the same period a year ago. Passenger yield for the second quarter was up 11.5% at KD45.6.

The results come as Jazeera prepares to launch its first long-haul route, making use of its newly delivered Airbus A320neo’s range to start a daily Kuwait-London Gatwick service on Oct. 27.  The airline describes the sector as the first long-haul route to be operated by a Middle East LCC, although Sharjah-based Air Arabia operates to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Jazeera’s A320neo will operate in a three-class layout with business, premium economy and economy cabins.

Jazeera is also expanding services to Turkey, with a new summer service to the resort of Bodrum on the country’s west coast. The airline’s flights to Istanbul have now moved to the city’s new international airport, while it has added services to the secondary Sabiha Gökçen International Airport.

“Jazeera Airways continues to perform positively as it further expands its network of destinations and grows its fleet with new three A320neo aircraft to be delivered in the second half of the year,” Jazeera chairman Marwan Boodai said.

Alan Dron alandron@adepteditorial.com