(eTN) As the economic recovery takes further hold in Kenya and the region, the “Pride of Africa” airline, Kenya Airways, has just announced that they will commence flights to Rome again, a destination dropped long ago when the cooperation with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines started. At the time, the route was no longer considered viable, but passengers often complained that in order to get to Italy, they first had to fly an extra 2 hours north, only to then overfly their country again enroute to Kenya and the same again on the way home. The Italian capital will be the most southerly entry point for Kenya Airways into Europe and will tap once more into the lucrative Italian holiday market for Kenya and also add capacity for air cargo between the two countries without having to trans-ship it first via other European waypoints.
The information was given by the airline’s CEO Titus Naikuni after announcing to the shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting that the carrier had returned to profit after facing two difficult years, caused by the global financial and economic crisis and also strike action, which impacted heavily on the bottom line last year, as overheads rose as a consequence by almost 30 percent. The airline posted a pre-tax profit of over 2.5 billion Kenya shillings, compared to a loss of well over 5 billion Kenya shillings for the last financial year. Management also confirmed that the recent ash cloud stoppages of flights into Europe will have an impact on the annual financial performance, but no details were given as to just how much it cost the airline – although the damage to the Kenyan economy in regard of lost passenger transport revenues, along with export of flowers, fresh produce, and chilled fish was pegged last month at over 3 billion Kenya shillings overall.
Kenya Airways at last also confirmed that they were indeed in touch with Airbus, discussing the purchase of several A330 aircraft to bridge the gap until the newly-developed and long-delayed Boeing 787 will become available, which – considering that major shareholder KLM/Air France already flies these models for several years in their fleet – will constitute no problem to integrate an Airbus model into the hitherto almost exclusive Boeing fleet. A final decision will be made in the second half of 2010.