Kenya Airways announced their results for 2019, which its Chairman Michael Joseph described as a reasonably good year in which they opened new routes, improved on performance and flew a record number of passengers, but one in which they had to make new accounting standard adjustments and then end by looking ahead to a Coronavirus world.
Group CFO Hellen Mwariri read the financial results starting with an explanation of IAS17 that was replaced by IFRS16. In 2019, the airline had shown improved revenue of Kshs 128 billion which was a 12% increase from the Kshs 114 billion the year before. They had flown 5.1 million passengers, a 7% increase and opened new routes to Genera and Rome with connections to Malindi.
The revenue growth of Kshs 14 billion was offset by increased direct costs from more flights of Kshs 5.8 billion, increased fleet ownership costs with the return of two Boeing 787s that were previously-leased out, resulting in a Kshs 6.4 billion expense, and increased finance costs which went up by Kshs 4.9 billion.
The main difference with the new accounting standard was that leases which were not on the balance sheet, are now included, with interest as an expense and this would affect airlines heavy on leasing. She said that mainly as a result of the 76% increase in finance costs, the airline’s loss for the year also increased by 71%, going up from Kshs 7.5 billion in 2018 to Kshs 12.9 billion in 2019.
Much like former CEO Mbuvi Ngunze, the airline’s new Group CEO Allan Kilavuka, who recently took over from Sebastian Mikosz, was welcomed with an in-tray of increased losses and new challenges, this time brought about by Coronavirus.
He estimated the impact of Coronavirus was a revenue loss of revenue, to date, of $150 million (~Kshs 16 billion) and that even if they start flying in June, he estimated that revenue will be $400 million (Kshs 43 billion) lower than 2019.
He said the airline was tentatively preparing to resume flights on June 8 2020. For now, they have converted three Boeing 787’s for cargo and have daily flights carrying flowers (1,200 tons to Europe so far), food (2,600 tons to Europe & the Middle East) and medical equipment (1,500 tons), while occasionally also operating occasional passenger repatriation flights.
The losses sent the airline back into negative equity territory, but the Chairman spoke of light at the end of their restructuring, which was through the planned creation of an airline holding company, that would include the Kenya Airports Authority and probably a re-nationalised Kenya Airways. A bill is with the Attorney General and should go to Parliament in a matter of weeks. Parliament has, in essence, revived an earlier plan to enable the airline to compete with its regional peers that are all state-owned.