Aerolineas Argentinas 

Kuwait Airways – Comets Operated

9K-ACA 6465 9K-ACE 6474 9K-ACI 6427

KA was founded as the Kuwait National Airways Company in 1954. Its name was changed in 1958 to Kuwait Airways. From June 1957 BOAC took over the technical management of the airline on a 5 year contract. Overlapping with that, in April 1959 British International Airlines, a BOAC subsidiary which had served the Kuwait Oil Company and the Kuwait Flying Club, was taken over by KA.

The Kuwaiti Government took a majority interest in the airline in late 1961. It was re-organised taking in local business interests in 1962 and two years later KA took over Trans Arabia Airways.

At this time KA was still under BOAC management. There had been some speculation that M.E.A.- another BOAC associate company – could be asked to take over the running of the airline. The plan called for M.E.A. to order an additional Comet 4C (making five) which they would operate on Kuwaiti behalf from Kuwait to London.

The Kuwaiti Government had other ideas and in August 1962 ordered their own Comet. It was to be used to inaugurate jet services on their various routes within the Middle East, to India and to Pakistan. The purchase was to be stop-gap measure pending the delivery of two Trident 1Es and three B.A.C. 1-11s which were expected to be operational in Spring 1965.

In preparation for delivery training had begun early in January in Hatfield. 4C, 9K-ACA, was officially been handed over to KA on the 17th January 1963. It was ‘delivered’ to Kuwait on 18th January 1963 after a record flight from Hatfield. In command was Kuwait Airways Chief Pilot, Capt. Hebbon and also aboard was de Havilland Chief Test Pilot John Cunningham. From Hatfield to Beirut the Comet averaged 490 mph and covered the leg in 4 hrs 34 min.

But before KA took delivery of their own Comet they had begun scheduled services with another 4C which they chartered form M.E.A. For the charter the aircraft retained most of its M.E.A. livery – e.g. with the Cedar of Lebanon on the tail – but had the ‘Kuwait Airways’ logo on the fuselage. This aircraft was crewed by M.E.A. staff.

The Comet proved very successful in service and there were reports (in February 1963) that Kuwait Airways were negotiating with Aerolineas Argentinas for the purchase, or failing that the charter, of a Comet 4. These negotiations came to nothing though.

Kuwait opted to buy a second 4C – it was to be the last but one Comet produced by de Havilland (by now Hawker Siddeley) to see commercial service. Registered 9K-ACE it was delivered on 2nd February 1964. Remarkably it too set a record – establishing a point to point record between London and Kuwait a distance of 2888 miles in 6 hrs 25 sec at an average speed of 481 mph.

BOAC’s original contact to manage Kuwait Airways expired in 1963. A new tripartite pool arrangement was drawn up replacing not only the KA agreement but also that with M.E.A. The arrangement was designed to be of benefit to all parties and enabled them to provide comprehensive services, with the minimum number of aircraft to, from, and around the Middle East.

Kuwait services included return flights from Beirut, Bahrein, Dahrahn, Doha and Abadan. For their part KA introduced its first scheduled service to London following the arrival of their second 4C in March ‘64.

Another Comet joined the KA fleet with the purchase of the ex-BOAC Comet 4 G-APDG in December 1966. This aircraft was re-registered 9K-ACI. The need for the extra aircraft had become apparent in 1965. The tripartite operating agreement had proved very successful and Kuwait had found it necessary to lease two BOAC Mk.4s (G-APDS – was leased form October 1965 and G-APDN from November the same year). These short-term leases were ended when both aircraft were returned to BOAC in February 1966.

Kuwait began running down its Comet services and their aircraft became surplus to requirements by the late 1960s. Their two 4Cs and one Mk.4 were leased to M.E.A. in December 1968 following the destruction of M.E.A’s 4Cs in the Israeli Commando attack on Beirut Airport. All the lease aircraft were returned to KA in the summer of 1969. They were then sold to Dan-Air – the Mk.4 in September 1970 and the two 4Cs in March 1971.


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Copyright © David Young 2021

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