(eTN) – The latest release of operational data by Kenya Airways (KQ) last weekend shows that the upswing and improvements for the “Pride of Africa” continues unabated. The global economic and financial crisis impacted severely on the performance of the East African economies as well, and combined with, at the time, huge rises in the cost of aviation fuel, KQ had recorded reduced cargo and passenger loads, had to cut routes and capacity, but overall, still managed to avoid the mega losses compared to, in particular, US-based carriers.
Strike action last year, which many observers thought was illegal at the time, because the union ignored a court order, followed by the European ash cloud earlier this year, caused financial wobbles for the airline. Now it seems the airline has put all of this firmly behind it and is progressively returning to its star performance of past years.
The operational report pointed out that KQ’s B777 fleet is presently undergoing heavy maintenance and that their B767 are taking up the routes albeit with lesser uplift capacity, underscoring the urgency to bring additional aircraft into the fleet, considering the long delays with the deliveries of the ordered B787 aircraft. It was, in fact, the B787, which was due to replace the ageing B767 fleet progressively from 2011 onwards, but the airline has remained queit on this issue and refrained from confirming if indeed they have made a deal with Airbus to bring A330s into the fleet as an intermediate measure.
Hence, the routes to the Middle and Far/South East are presently down by 8 percent, largely due to the use of the smaller B767, but still up from last year overall, while it is again the African route network, which shows the largest upswing. Flights to South Africa were up by 22 percent during the period under review, supported by world cup traffic, into which KQ tapped successfully by using their Nairobi hub for the onward connections to Johannesburg.
East Africa capacity by KQ on papers appears down by 7 percent, but informed observers, including this correspondent, attribute this to the increased use of the smaller capacity Embraer jets and a greater integration of traffic into Tanzania with partner airline Precision Air, which is now playing a larger role in cross-border traffic, giving KQ the ability to re-deploy their own fleet to other valuable destinations in the region. Visit the company’s website www.kenya-airways.com for more information on corporate and financial performance.