KENYA AIRWAYS ON EXPANSION PATH
No sooner had news broken yesterday afternoon about the ambitions of Kenya Airways to break into the profitable cargo market by acquiring one B747-400F and two B737F, came more information out of their Embakasi headquarters that they have signed a deal with global aircraft leasing giant GECAS for the delivery of two additional B777-300ER in late 2012 and early 2013.
The long delay in getting their ordered B787 on line made intercontinental growth for Kenya Airways very difficult, a source in Nairobi conceded, affecting the airline’s ability to add frequencies and new destinations due to lack of aircraft. The source was however not willing to speculate on further delays in the delivery of their ‘Dreamliners’ and was only ready to admit that the addition of the two B777’s was ‘necessary in view of the circumstances’. The two aircraft will feature KQ’s ‘classic’ C and Y configuration with true ‘flat beds’ in the business class section of the aircraft and a ‘comfortable but not over the top’ economy class configuration.
Kenya Airways is on course to add their planned 7 new destinations this year and has confirmed the addition of a further at least 7 new destinations next year, most expected to be in Africa where KQ will by the end of 2013 connect all African capitals or key commercial cities with Nairobi. A few weeks ago the airline announced their financial results for the 2010/11 financial year, showing a firm return into the profit margins inspite of rising fuel prices, a strong competitive environment in Kenya, the wider East African region and on their international routes where in particular Gulf based airlines continue to siphon off Kenya Airways’ connecting traffic from West Africa to the Near, Far and South East. ‘The Pride of Africa’ also recently surprised the public, though not aviation analysts, when they placed an order for a further 10 Embraer E190 jets with options for 10 more Embraer aircraft, which will all be used on domestic, regional and select African routes where the airline’s B737-800 is considered too large.
Watch this space for the most up to date aviation news from East Africa and the Indian Ocean region.