Kenya Airways (KQ) recorded an unsurprising record loss for a year in which Covid-19 saw grounded aircraft and closed airspaces. After the worst year for aviation since 1999, KQ’s Chairman Michael Joseph said he expects that the airline will not recover to pre-Covid growth and revenue levels till about 2023 and will use the period to right-size its fleet, and deal with legacy issues & contracts. A bill currently in Kenya’s Parliament will place the airline in an aviation holding company with the Kenya Airports Authority.
KQ flew 1.8 million passengers, down 66% from 2019, and they were grounded by Covid-19 through the summer which is usually their most-profitable period. For the year, revenue was down 60% to Kshs 52 billion, and while operating costs were down 39%, it still resulted in a loss of Kshs 36.2 billion.
KQ Group MD Allan Kilavuka said the airline has resume flying to routes that are safe and which provide steady revenue (China is their best route but all airlines are restricted to two flights a week). They have also revived cargo, delivering more flowers, food and pharmaceuticals. They added a new cold storage facility (300-ton capacity) and converted a 787 Dreamliner into a preighter (adding 50 tons of capacity). The airline also started a Mombasa – Sharjah cargo flight, resumed weekly cargo ones to Delhi, and in Southern Africa, they obtained 5th freedom rights to operate cargo flights between Johannesburg, Harare, Lilongwe, Dar es Salaam and Maputo.
This year, they will explore partnerships with other airlines (in Africa and Europe) as their joint-venture with KLM comes to an end, by mutual consent, in September 2021. They also plan to convert another aircraft into a preighter and will explore commercial drone operations, after having bought four for training.