Category Archives: KLM

Air France resumes Nairobi flights

Air France has resumed flights to Nairobi and will join an expanded joint-venture partnership between KLM and Kenya Airways that was established in 1995.

Flight crew of the inaugural Air France flight

The inaugural flight using a Boeing 787-900 landed on March 26, which was eighteen years to the day when Air France had ended its Nairobi flights. The new flights will be three times a week using a Boing 787 and AF814 will leave Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 20:50 on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, arriving in Nairobi at 6:00, the next day and AF815 will leave Nairobi at 08:20 on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays and arrive at Paris-Charles de Gaulle at 15:50.

The expanded code-share will see the airlines have a combined three hubs (Amsterdam, Paris, Nairobi) enabling passengers to have seamless connections through booking on any of the three Air France flights (Paris-Nairobi), 14 Kenya Airways flights (7 Amsterdam-Nairobi and 7 Paris-Nairobi) and 7 KLM flights (Amsterdam-Nairobi)

From this summer, the Air France-KLM group comprising Air France, KLM, Transavia, and Joon will serve 51 African destinations on 489 weekly flights as in April 2018, Joon will begin serving Cape Town (South Africa) from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

Kenya Airways March 2018 results

Kenya Airways (KQ) announced their full-year results in Nairobi this morning covering the nine-month period April to December 2017, as in a change for past years, they have shifted their year-end to December to be in line with their airline partners. It was tough to compare 2017 to 2016 which was a full year but it was a significant year in which the airline  completed a capital optimization to wipe out a deficit in their balance sheet which was achieved by Kenyan banks converting debt into equity, and becoming the second-largest shareholder (38.1%) after the Kenya Government who also funded their airline with cash and guarantees as their shareholding went up to 49%.

CEO Sebastian Mikosz said that fuel prices (which went up from about $52 to $62 in the year combined with elections (which included a 20% drop in East African domestic travel) had the biggest impact on the bottom line. He said that they flew 3.4 million passengers with a 76.2 average cabin factor and 8.1million revenue kilometers and increased frequencies to Cape Town, and added a  new route to Victoria Falls.  He

Acting CFO Hellen Mwariri read the results which included an operating profit Kshs 1.3 billion and a loss after tax of Kshs 6.1 billion. This was from revenue of Kshs 81 billion (compared to Kshs 106 billion in the full year before) and with assets at year-end of Kshs 140 billion (146 billion the year before) and they had also wiped out the negative equity position that went from minus Kshs 44 billion to minus 4 billion.

Mikosz spoke of the need to get more revenue from Kenya Airways corporate brands –  Jambojet, Technical (servicing their own aircraft and they gained two external customers in the year), Cargo, Pride (training), and Holidays. He also spoke of network optimization at the airline –  adding New York flights, new routes to Mauritius and Cape Town, and using more Q400 turboprops on short regional routes. Kenya Airways will also be enlarging their joint-venture with KLM to now include Air France and will KQ introduce an “economy comfort” product in all aircraft in the next 12-15 months, something that is popular with European partners customers. They have also recalled a Boeing 787, that they had sub-leased Oman Air, which they will now use on the New York route from October.

Mikosz said he was not a big fan of “open skies” that African nations were pushing for as Africa was not like Europe that regulated and policed open skies and was able to monitor the competitive space and the support availed to all airlines and the levels of state protection.

Government Guarantee to Kenya Airways and Shareholding Increase

Today the Kenya government signed guarantee deals to secure Kenya Airways (KQ) continued financial support from EXIM Bank US, and a consortium of Kenya banks and also converted its debt to more equity, significantly altering the ownership structure of the airline.

The Government had advanced loans of Kshs 4.2 billion and $197million to KQ, and the debt conversion will see a 19.1% increase in their shareholding. Aside from, that Kenyan banks, which were owed $217 million, received a 38.1% shareholding in KQ in exchange for $167 million of that debt.

The $267 million government debt and bank conversions are part of a series of complex restructuring deals. The resultant shareholding of KQ will be Kenya Government 48.9%, Kenyan banks 38.1%, KLM 7.8%, and other shareholders will have 5.2%, after a  massive dilution that shareholders approved at an EGM in August 2017. Not all bank and all government debts were converted as that would have seen the government stake go above 51% and they wanted KQ to remain a private company, not a state/parastatal one. The restructured board will comprise 3 directors from the Government, 2 from the banks, and KLM will have 1 representative.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said that the guarantee and restructuring by the government was not a bailout and the Government expected repayments of dividends from KQ within the next decade. The Government had been faced with two options with regard to KQ one of which (folding the airline) it could not pursue, and it chose the other, to support the airline, for which, the Cabinet confirmed through an independent business case study by the Seabury Group, that the airline could, through shareholder support, be turned around and have a viable future. He said the capital optimization would enable the airline to trade on its own balance sheet.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said that aviation sector, led by Kenya Airways,  contributes 10% to Kenya’s GDP and was a central engine that supports other economic activities like investments, horticulture, and tourism. Also by having a strong KQ, this would strengthen the case to make Nairobi’s JKIA airport a regional hub and his Ministry was in the process of finalizing plans to add a second runway and expanding existing terminals to enable the airport to serve 12 million travelers a year.

The bank shareholding will be through KQ Lenders Co, a special purpose vehicle that will be managed by Minerva Fiduciary Services of Mauritius and the agreement was signed by Madabhushi Soundararajan a career-banker, as director.

Airline Megadeal

As KLM scales down its investment in Kenya Airways, it is involved in another aviation mega-deal.  Air France-KLM is buying a 31% stake in Virgin Atlantic as part of a series of deals that look set to shake up the airline world.

IFC celebrates KLM’s investment in KQ

Excerpts 

  • Delta Air Lines becomes the largest shareholder at 49 percent in Virgin Atlantic and founder Richard Branson cedes control. He will retain a 20% stake through his Virgin Group and the airline will continue to fly under the Virgin brand.
  • Delta Air Lines will take a 10% stake in Air France-KLM with the three airline companies coming together to create a single global joint-venture.
  • China Eastern Airlines will also take a 10% stake in Air France-KLM.
  • Air France-KLM’s investment in Virgin Atlantic will cost around $287 million (£220 million), while the two 10% stake sales are being valued at $981 million (€751 million) each for Delta and China Eastern.

The long-term aim of the deals is to bring the two pre-existing joint ventures—Air France-KLM, Delta and Alitalia, and secondly Delta and Virgin Atlantic—within a single joint-venture. The goal is that all the companies work more closely together, helping them fly more passengers to more destinations at a lower cost (to themselves). Plus, Air France’s balance sheet gets a makeover.

While Virgin has been struggling, as shown by the modest transaction price, it has one very attractive asset: landing slots at London’s crowded Heathrow airport, where passengers tend to pay higher fares

Meanwhile, some tension has been cited in the partnership between KLM and Air France.

  • A clash of national cultures and an inability to understand each other’s languages threatens to make the merged Air France-KLM group of airlines unmanageable, according to a leaked internal company report.
  • French staff in the Franco-Dutch company complain their colleagues from the Netherlands are money-grubbing, while the Dutch regard the Air France staff as aloof, according to the report. Among the petty grievances, there is irritation that a KLM employee working in Paris is charged €10 for lunch in the canteen, while an Air France colleague pays only €4.

 

Kenya Airways Restructuring Update

Yesterday Kenya Airways had a press conference with new Chairman Michael Joseph and outgoing CEO Mbuvi Ngunze. They spoke of restructuring changes happening at the company some of which included:

  • CEO search: Kenya Airways has listed between 15 and 18 candidates for CEO position, from all over the world. Shortlist will be 3-4 for final interviews (Via @wgkantai)
  • Challenges with staff. During the restructuring, some engineers have left KQ to work for Middle-East carriers. Crucially, the Chairman now seems to agree with the CEO on the need to revisit talks with the pilots union and to enhance staff productivity during the restructuring.
  • The contract with Mckinsey consulting is being wound down. It had been criticized for being very expensive. Many of the restructuring initiatives under the airline’s Operation Pride for revenue generation and cost saving were formulated by KQ staff and are being implemented by KQ staff, and hence the consultants’ time is over. Mr. Joseph said that this restructuring plan is now 55% complete.
  • KLM partnership:  The chairman defended the joint venture between KLM and KQ which some of the airline’s critics, especially its pilots, a claim was to the airline’s disadvantage. “Right now KLM is the best partner for us in terms of the route structure. The benefit is to KQ because KLM flies more routes and sells more tickets. We get revenues from the countries we don’t fly to into the joint venture. In the end, we benefit
  • The Chief Executive of KLM resigned from the KQ board and was replaced by Jos Veenstra who is a chartered accountant and is currently the VP Mergers Acquisitions and Holdings for Air France/KLM, and who has ben alternate director at KQ. It does not appear to be related with the restructuring. (via Capital FM)