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Kuwait Airways chief suspended over Jet Airways plan

By Ahmed Hagagy

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait has suspended the chairman of state-owned Kuwait Airways in a dispute over his plans to buy five used aircraft from India's Jet Airways .

Kuwaiti newspaper al-Qabas quoted the Communications Minister Esa al-Kandari as saying he had suspended Sami al-Nisf after he announced plans to buy the used aircraft, despite a request to stop the deal.

Nisf confirmed he had been suspended.

Kuwait Airways said on Sunday it wanted to buy the used Airbus A330 planes in a deal it said would not affect a previously-announced plan to buy new Airbus jets.

Nisf said Airbus, which is owned by aerospace and defence group EADS , will act as a mediator in the deal with Jet Airways even though the five-year-old planes are owned by the Indian carrier.

A source at the company said the airline's board was meeting to discuss Nisf's suspension decision.

Another company source said Kuwait Airways had been negotiating to lease the aircraft for eight years in a deal worth 134 million dinars ($473.7 million), but decided instead to buy the planes for 77 million dinars.

The source also said that the suspension has thrown the Jet Airways deal into doubt.

But in a statement to Reuters on Monday a Jet Airways spokesman no such deal had been reached.

"We are not aware as no such decisions have been taken to sell planes to other carriers," the statement said.

Al-Qabas said Kandari appointed Nisf's deputy, Jassar al-Jassar, as acting chairman.

($1 = 0.2830 Kuwaiti dinars)

(Additional reporting by Devidutta Tripathy in New Delhi, writing by Sami Aboudi and editing by Yara Bayoumy and Louise Heavens)

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