Kenya aviation news update – KQ going places staying green


The Kenya Airways sponsored tree planting project at the Ngong Hills outside Nairobi continues with now about 750.000 trees already planted of an intermediate target of 1.000.000 trees before assessing the success of the ‘Trees for Future’ engagement and launching fresh initiatives.

KQ now also gives all passengers the option of making added financial contributions in accordance with the miles flown to support added ‘green’ initiatives selected by a panel at the airline and this, according to a source in Nairobi, is taking hold in the market fast.

Meanwhile, following the announcement of the full year 2010/11 results earlier in the week has the airline confirmed that they will continue with their rollout of a comprehensive Africa network, which by 2013 will connect all African capitals, traffic rights permitting, with the Kenyan capital city of Nairobi.

Constraints it was pointed out however were found in the fact that pilots’ training – Kenya Airways has several dozen sponsored trainee pilots in flying schools in South Africa and elsewhere – takes time, something the airline does not seem to have considering the ongoing delivery of more jet aircraft to the fleet. This year alone at least two more Embraer 190AR are due to be delivered as are more NG B737’s and all require multiple cockpit crews – conventional wisdom speaks of between 5 to 7 for each aircraft to be optimally staffed – to allow the birds to be operated to the fullest extent.

Estimates at present talk of a cockpit crew shortfall of over 100 pilots for Kenya Airways alone, to meet destination and expansion targets as planned, and much of this discrepancy is linked to the siphoning effect the Gulf aviation scene has created in recent years, absorbing trained pilots from Africa’s scheduled airlines at a rate faster than they can be replaced by their original employers. This has added to the trend that East Africa’s ‘safari airlines’ too are now suffering from pilots seeking greener pastures and ‘upgrading’ their ratings from single and twin engined light and turboprop aircraft to commercial jets as and when possible, leaving the aviation industry almost befuddled over how to retain their pilots and recruit new ones meeting the standard requirements for deployment as first officers or captains.

Although the age limit for captains has been increased in recent years from an initial 60 years to 65 years there is still a wave of retirements coming the way of the global aviation industry making it all the more urgent to recruit the next, and then again the next generation of ‘fly boys and fly girls’, as the female presence in cockpits, even in Africa, begins to expand.

Meanwhile though, these challenges notwithstanding, has a regular source at KQ confirmed that plans are advancing on course to add Abuja by midyear – it is not clear if this will be operated as an extension of the airline’s Lagos flights – before commencing operations to Mauritius and a few other destinations, as many as five or six more in total it was learned, they however like to keep still under wraps to give their opposite numbers a little more time to speculate and ‘worry’ as another aviation source in Nairobi put it.

Happy Landings to them all!