Category Archives: Kenya Airways

KQ Restructuring extended to Banks and Shareholders

This week Kenya Airways (KQ) announced the next phase of their restructuring, with a focus on their balance sheet.

While shareholders have been aware of the erosion of their equity at the airline, the reality may still be a shock.  A Business Daily story quotes a Genghis Capital report which projects that the airlines 78,000 shareholders will be several diluted as the airline has to put some equity back on its balance sheet. In the process of conversion and providing guarantees,  the airline’s largest shareholder, the Government of Kenya, will increase its stake to 41% as that of KLM will reduce to 19%.

The support confirmed by the Cabinet included conversion of the Government of Kenya loans into equity, and provision of contingent guarantees subject to parliamentary approval in exchange for material concessions to be provided as part of the financial restructuring, which would secure future funding of the company and would more importantly NOT require Government to provide CASH as part of the restructuring.

And coming on board as new shareholders will be several commercial banks (possibly as many as 11 banks) who will own 34% of the airline after they swap some loans for equity. Kenya Airways principal bankers are Citibank, Standard Chartered, Barclays, Equity and National Bank. Some of the main facilities are aircraft loans secured from Citibank NA, Citi/JP Morgan, African Export – Import Bank/ Standard Chartered Bank as well as an engine loan from Co-operative Bank. Some banks who had advanced different short-term facilities to the airline, up through their 2015 financial year include Equity Bank, Jamii Bora, KCB, CBA, I & M, Chase, National Bank, Diamond Trust, Co-operative, NIC and Ecobank.

See also: An investor asks if it the right time to buy KQ shares? 

Drones, Helicopters and Aviation Regulations in Kenya

This morning, the Director General of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) gave a press chat on the aviation sector.

  • Drones: About 5,000 drones (mostly toy ones)  have been confiscated at Nairobi’s airport (JKIA). They have drafted new policy procedures and rules for drones that awaiting approval by the attorney general, but for now, their usage is still illegal.
  • US Flights: The country has now got category one status. There will be one more inspection later this year after which Kenya Airways can apply for rights and probably start flying to the US in April 2018. He expects 75% of the tickets to be taken up by US businesses people travel to Africa with Kenyan diaspora making up 15% and the rest as leisure travel.
  • Expensive Tickets: About 43% of the cost of an air ticket in Kenya is taxes. There is a strategic plan to make six East African countries a domestic market which should lower airline taxes per ticket from the current Kshs 5,000 to 500 and this will enable more and cheaper flights in the region.
  • 80% of KCAA’s income comes from airlines over flying Kenya which is strategically placed in Africa.
  • Helicopters: There are 88 licensed helicopters in Kenya, and 60 are operating. Also, the KCAA expects about 40 more to arrive to be used in campaigns for the August 2017 election. Their biggest problem they have are with “James Bond incidents”  (people hanging on skids) and the Director urged media to report such on incident for them to take action on  act on operators
  • Opportunities: There are 100 licensed helicopter pilots and this is not enough; there are many more jobs as helicopter pilots, aviation engineers, and safety operators. Entering these sectors is not cheap as it costs Kshs 2 million to be a private helicopter pilot and about Kshs 6 million to be a commercial helicopter pilot, with part of this high cost being due to the cost of avgas as pilots have to spend many hours in training. (While petrol is Kshs 95 per liter, Avgas is 150).
  • Training: There is a big concern about colleges claiming to offer aviation courses, but which are not in fact certified by the KCAA. Anyone seeking to operate in the sector is re-examined

Kenya Airways 2017 Results

Kenya Airways (KQ) announced their full-year results in which they reported an operating profit of Kshs 900 million, an improvement from an operating loss of Kshs 4.1 billion the year before.

KQ flew 4.5 million passengers, an increase of 5%, to 53 destination, but had an 8% dip in revenue to Kshs 106 billion, due to the reduced fleet capacity including a change from anchor Boeing 777’s to 787’s

But more significant was that idle capacity, such as from the large Boeing 777’s, and been jettisoned, reducing fleet ownership costs by 47%, and this combined with Operation Pride initiatives, had seen the airline achieve the gross profit after all the direct costs, fleet ownership costs and overheads. However after finance costs were factored in, the airline still had an after-tax loss of Kshs 10 billion, a great improvement from the Kshs 26 billion in 2016.

These were the final results presented by CEO Mbuvi Ngunze who had announced his resignation and who is being replaced by Sebastian Mikosz from  June 1. The airline is next expected to extend the restructuring program to the other side of  their the balance sheet and address the negative capital position and high debt on the balance sheet.

During the year they added new flights between Entebbe and Bangui and two new routes  to Cape Town, via Victoria and via Livingstone. From October 2017, KQ will add 30 new flights to existing African destinations. On the cargo side, they are now flying flowers to new markets in Australia and China.

This month, their Jambojet subsidiary acquired a second Dash 8 Q400 as the airline also got Kenya government permission for international routes, which could include Kilimanjaro, Mwanza, Hargeisa, Mogadishu, Goma, and Kisangani.

Guide to Kinshasa

A guest post by @Cathkemi on a visit to Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Getting There: I used Kenya Airways for Entebbe – Nairobi – Kinshasa; The cost was about $900-1,000 but booked at the last minute.

On arrival: Clearing was very easy at the new efficient airport. But leaving is a hassle. You have to pay $55 worth of taxes to leave, and there are endless checks.

Getting around: Public minibus taxis are popular in the city centre. Luckily I got around with the office car, rides from colleagues, and taxis. Walking around is generally secure depending on where you are. But at night need to be extra careful. You can’t just stroll around, and you need to be extra careful about which taxis you get into.

Staying in touch: I used my Ugandan line and it was very expensive. Both local and international calls are all expensive.

Where to stay: Not sure, as I haven’t stayed in a hotel. Most tourists stay in the up class neighbourhood of Gombe. Or near the UN mission HQ. It has nice restaurants and bars etc. though is expensive. Electricity is not very reliable; our office is in an upper-class neighbourhood but power can cut out several times a week. You need a generator there.

Out & About: The main dishes are fufu with meat, fish, vegetables etc. It’s basic but can be tasty depending on who makes it. Beers are easy to get. Not sure how much but should be around $3-5 and Tembo is the most popular one.

You need some level of French to get around. Not a lot of people speak English. Politics are a major discussion point as the  DRC is in a political crisis, with the President not stepping down after his two terms in office running out.

Shopping & Sightseeing: The nightlife would be the main sightseeing. Lol. Also going to restaurants, hotels etc. by the Congo River. Most people will tell you Goma in the East is the main tourist destination, and many people buy African print material as gifts to take back.

Dollars are the easiest currency to use. They are accepted everywhere – even for phone credit.

Biggest surprise in the country: Houses are very small – housing is cramped my guess is because the city is overcrowded. There is not a lot of outdoor space.

But in richer neighbourhoods, the opulence is astounding. Also, national buildings are extremely big, as are their avenues. Bigger than anything else I’ve seen on the continent. My friends tell me it’s because DRC is a big country so it’s translated into national buildings – which makes sense, and this gives you an idea of how big the country is even if you don’t travel out of Kinshasa.

Also, see a guide to Bukavu, which is on the other end of the vast DRC. 

Oman Air launches Nairobi flights

Product launches seem to follow an established template: bright flashy lights, cakes, and ribbons, and occasionally a tame wild animal, concluded by a rehashed speech from a government functionary. But no wildlife was present as Oman Air officially launched their four times a week flight to Nairobi at the Kempinski Villa Rosa Hotel on 29th March 2017. The inaugural flight to Nairobi had arrived the previous day and it was received by local Kenya airport and Government authorities.

Importantly, however, was the interest generated of Oman as a destination and indeed a hub for travelers to the Middle East and beyond. The airline’s Deputy CEO and VP –Commercial, Abdulrahman Al Busaidy proved not only an eloquent spokesman for his company but a worthy ambassador of The Sultanate of Oman. The interest of those present at the launch was piqued as few had ever thought of Oman as a holiday destination let alone a hub. Most travelers from Kenya have traditionally chosen the Arab carriers that utilize Dubai (Emirates), Doha (Qatar), Abu Dhabi (Etihad) as well as Sharjah (Air Arabia) which all market themselves’ as glitzy shopping and commercial destinations.

Oman Air doesn’t pretend to be a Gulf Major carrier. Currently Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways are the undisputed ME3 giants who are now subject to what has been perceived by many to be protectionist measures from the USA and the UK in the guise of the ‘laptop ban’. Al Busaidy attributes such measures to the incapability of carriers from those countries to compete on services available at their fantastic airports and modern fleet and services. While no US carrier serves the Middle East, the gulf carriers operate multiple flights to any of the major hubs in the Middle East.

Oman Air is leveraging the long historical ties between Kenya and Oman which date back to the days when the Portuguese ruled much of the East Coast of Africa. Indeed the Sultan of Oman’s army flushed out the Portuguese from Fort Jesus in the 17th Century and the cultural exchanges and inter-marriage with the local coastal people gave rise to Africa’s most widely spoken language, Kiswahili.

Currently, the airline flies to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar with Nairobi being the 55th destination of the airline’s growing route development. With a popular in-flight entertainment and free Wi-Fi service on most of its aircraft, Oman Air now has a fleet of 47 aircraft with a mix of Embraer Regional Jets (ERJ) for local and regional flights, Boeing 737s for short haul routes and Airbus A330’s and now the Boeing 787 Dreamliners for the long haul flights.

Indeed two of the Dreamliners were leased from Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ’s) as part of fleet rationalization of KQ’s ongoing Operation Pride restructuring. Both airlines are expected to conclude a code-share agreement by mid-April 2017. Oman Air has also chosen not to align itself with any of the major airline alliances such as Sky Team, Star Alliance or One World but instead code shares flights with Emirates, Ethiopian, Garuda Indonesia, KLM, Royal Jordanian, Saudia, Sri Lankan Airlines, Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines.

Muscat as a base for Oman Air provides the entry point to this traditional conservative Sultanate which has a rich history in preserving its culture (Islamic architecture, all-white buildings, Dhow making, Painting shows, the Muscat Festival and the Khareef Festival held in Salalah in July and August annually) and environment punctuated with over a 100km coastline.

Nairobi will serve as the entry point to popular tourist destinations at the Kenyan Coast and the wildlife marvels of the national parks in the Mara, Tsavo, and Amboseli. Tourism between Kenya and Oman is expected to grow as the airline also envisages Mombasa as a future destination. Coupled with a fairly liberal visa regime (Note that Dubai visa holders get automatic entry into Oman), Oman Air is hoping to prise away traffic from the other carriers especially to the big hubs of the Middle East, India, and China. With introductory fares of $350 to Muscat and $485 to Guangzhou return, this could prove to make for interesting times for travelers to and from Nairobi.

Oman Air indeed epitomizes Oman as a country, its aspirations, culture, history and modernity and its approach to tying itself to both its past and the future as it opens up new destinations. The Nairobi route will be operated by a Boeing 737-800 and the airline’s growth and development strategy plans for 70 aircraft (currently they ar e47) and 75 destinations by the year 2020. The four times a week flight (WY722) )leaves Nairobi at 00:45 (on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) and operates non-stop and is designed for an early morning arrival in Muscat that enables connections to other 50 destinations.

Oman’s currency is the Rial and OMR 1 = ~$ 2.6, and OMR 1 is ~Kshs 267.