A parliamentary committee in Kuwait has approved the privatization of struggling flagship carrier Kuwait Airways, but says the process could take up to three years.

The report by the official Kuwait News Agency gave no further details. But officials Tuesday suggested there were no major changes to previously announced plans to offer a 35 percent stake to shareholders.

Kuwait Airways faces several challenges including high labor costs, an aging fleet and stiff competition from other Persian Gulf carriers such as Qatar Airways and Dubai-based Emirates.

The move comes four years after Kuwait's parliament first approved a plan to restructure the airline.

Kuwait relies on oil exports for nearly all its revenue, but like other Gulf states it hopes to bolster its private sector and reduce dependency on oil revenue.