Category Archives: Kenya Airways

Nairobi investment tips from Genghis for 2020

Genghis Capital has launched its 2020 investment playbook with the theme “harnessing value” after a year in which the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) all share-index had gained 18% compared to a loss of 18% in 2018. 

Top gaining shares in 2019 were led by Sameer Africa which rose 86%, then Equity Group 53%, Longhorn Publishers 46%, KCB 44% and Safaricom 42%. Shares on the bottom side were Kenya Airways which lost 77%, then Uchumi Supermarkets -63% and Mumias Sugar -43%. 

The playbook has a summary of 2019 whose gains were largely due to Safaricom and bank shares, and some of the year’s top deals which included the bank mergers of CBA & NIC and KCB & NBK. Other highlights of the year were the launch of derivative futures and the NSE Ibuka program which has uncovered some promising companies. It also notes the suspension of Mumias which joined Deacons and Athi River Mining as other shares in limbo. 

Outlook for 2020: The report includes a macroeconomic outlook for the country this year during which they expect aggressive domestic borrowing by the government, and the Kenya shilling to range between 100 – 104 against the US dollar. They have also factored in the possibility of another Kenya political referendum happening during 2020. 

Going forward, they expect that bank shares will do well, but that other equities will struggle this year. They look forward to the opportunity that derivatives have brought of diversification with lower trading costs but note that there is a need to have a market-maker to resolve some liquidity difficulties of trading derivatives.

They also note that the main shareholders at Unga and Express may try again to delist their company shares and take advantage of a new rule that reduces the takeover threshold requirement from being approval by 90% of shareholders to just 50%. Genghis also expect that the nationalization of Kenya Airways will be completed in 2020.  

Genghis picks and recommendations:

  • Momentum shares are Equity, EABL, KCB, Safaricom.
  • Income Shares are KCB, Barclays, Co-op Bank, Stanchart, KenGen.
  • Value shares are EABL KenGen, Kenya Re.
  • Buy (expect gains of more than 15%) EABL, Kengen, Kenya Re, KCB, NCBA, and Diamond Trust.
  • Hold (expect changes of between -15% to +14% over the next 12 months) Safaricom, Standard Chartered, Barclays, Equity, Cooperative, Stanbic, and I&M.  
  • Sell Recommendation: N/A

See last year’s picks by Genghis.

Kenya Airways 2018 results

Excerpts from the announcement of the Kenya Airways 2018 financial results April 30, 2019 at Ole Sereni Hotel. Nairobi at a breakfast event with investors and media.

Performance: 2018 revenue was Kshs 114 billion (~$1.14 billion), compared to 81 billion in 2017 at the airline, which is in the middle of discussions about taking over the management of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) under a public-private partnership (PPP).

Chairman Michael Joseph said 2018 had been a challenging year, one highlight of which was the launch of non-stop daily flights New York, but there was a lot media scrutiny on PPP on JKIA that was wrong and excitable. He said that the airline was on the right path and thanked the staff for doing a great job under difficult circumstances.

CEO Sebastian Mikosz said this was the second year of growth in passengers and cargo and a narrowed loss. The difference to 2017 (which was abbreviated to 9 months as the airline changed its financial year-end to match IATA and its financial partners) was stark but the CEO went out of his way to compare unofficial twelve month numbers for 2017 to highlight that the airline had increased income, and flown more passengers despite the smaller fleet in 2018. They had 13,258 daily customers (up from 12,484),  a cabin factor of 76% and on-time performance 79%.

They earned Kshs 95 billion from flying 4.84 million passengers in 2018, Kshs 8.5 billion from cargo 8.5 billion and earned Kshs 10 billion from other business including ground handling and repairs and maintenance and training,. While the revenue covered their fleet ownership, fuel and staff costs, they ended with an operating loss of Kshs 683 million and, an overall loss before tax of Kshs 7.5 billion ($75 million).

Fuel: Accounts for 40% of costs, and as prices went up 30% in 2018, it remains one of the biggest challenges to profitability. As such they are going back to fuel hedging as a risk minimization strategy.

Fleet: They are getting back two Boeing 787’s from Oman Air but have extended an ongoing lease with Turkish to retain three Boeing 777-300’s which are simply too large to operate given the current loads and will introduce a complexity  that is not desirable now.

Routes and Partnerships 
  • The New York direct flight route had flown 15,000 passengers as of December 31 2018. The load factor is 64% and CEO said that there was nothing lucrative about NYC but it helped serve the Africa Market with 5 weekly flights which they will adjust back to being daily flights in the summer. The non-stop route offers the fastest route between New York and Indian Ocean destinations countries like Mauritius
  • The Air-France-KLM joint venture is still the biggest part of their business. They have now added one with Delta enabling KQ to sell flights to Delta destination cities beyond New York.
  • UN: With the addition of Geneva (and Rime) in June, they will now fly to all the main UN cities – Geneva, Mogadishu, Paris, New York – from Nairobi, completing their UN network.
  • JamboJet: They are trying to pushing to get their Jambojet subsidiary IOSA-certified so they can codeshare on more local routes.

African Aviation: The results presentation showed comparisons to Rwandair, Ethiopian, Turkish, Ethiopian and Emirates airlines, but Mikosz said that KQ was the only airline interested in growing the Nairobi hub. The CEO cautioned that while in 2010, Ethiopian was the same size as KQ, today it was three times bigger, and that was due to support systems, Also that Rwandair, while considered small today, will catch KQ in five years unless KQ grows its hub in this competitive environment.

PPP: The fate of the public-private partnership proposal for the airline to manage JKIA is still with the Privatization Commission who turned it over to Parliament for public hearings that were stormy at times and led to a lot of inaccuracies. The CEO and Chairman said it was not necessary for the growth plan that the company had presented to shareholders during their 2017 restructuring, but it was one which would accelerate its rate by levelling the playing field with its continental peers.

Embraer Woos Africa

Fresh from the Farnborough air show, Embraer embarked on an African tour to showcase their planes in what they see as an under-served air market on the African continent.

The company flew an Embraer E190 E2 jet with a unique shark-nose look (nick-named “profit-hunter”) to Algiers (home of Air Algerie)  and Casablanca (Royal Air Maroc), then on to Accra and NairobiKenya Airways (KQ), which is the largest Embraer E-jet operator in Africa and also hosts one of the few approved E190 services centres in Africa, staged an event that featured local aviation officials, KQ customers and the Brazilian Ambassador to Kenya that ended with demonstration flight that over Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest point. 

Embraer were keen to showcase the quiet-ness and efficiency of the E190 which they bill as the best single-aisle aircraft. They view Africa as an under-served aviation market in which 95% of flights have less than 150 passengers and 61% of routes have less than one flight per day, with many potential new routes being 4-5 hour flights, that are beyond the operational reach of propeller planes and with their E-jets as just the right size for African airlines. 

Kenya Airways has been flying Embraer’s since 2006. They stared with the smaller E170 and upgraded to the E190’s which now form a third of their lean fleet; they have 15 of them – 10 are owned, 5 on lease  – and they seat 12 passengers in business class and 84 in economy. But it is unlikely that Kenya Airways that is emerging from a long restructuring process will be buying any more planes soon, but other things are happening and at Farnborough, Embraer and KQ announced a new spare parts supply deal.

After Nairobi, the E2 jet flew on to Mauritius where Air Mauritius is tipped to be a potential customer and they planned to continue on to South Africa where Embraer has a training centre and a regional office for Middle-East and Africa.

KQ KAA Partnership at JKIA

This week, Kenya Airways and the Kenya Airports Authority – (KAA) published a joint notice about discussions towards collaboration in the management of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

This is not new or unique. Last year the Ethiopia government merged it’s airline, the largest airline in Africa, making it the centerpiece of a hub-strategy for Addis that incorporates the airport, passengers, logistics, training, catering and tourism). In Rwanda there is also a similar management arrangement, another soon at Tanzania, while the latest results from Emirates, in its 30th year of profit announced last month, show 14% of their revenue was from cargo and 15% was from D-nata which does ground handling and logistics for other airlines around the world including from extensive investments in Europe, Asia, and North America.

At a previous shareholders meeting (AGM), KQ Chairman Michael Joseph spoke of closer ties with the government, and the need for the airline to get in involved in route approval, and protecting Nairobi as its hub. He said that whenever a foreign leader visited or the President of Kenya went overseas, a “win” from such trips was the granting of more rights to foreign airlines to fly into Kenya, which was to the detriment to KQ, in which the government had a significant investment.

According to its latest results (June 2016 from the Auditor General of Kenya), KAA which constructs, operates and maintains aerodromes around Kenya (including 16 airports)  had Kshs 13.5 billion revenue and a Kshs 2.6 billion profit (in the previous year, this was Kshs 4.4 billion).

The revenue includes Kshs 6.7 B (billion) in passenger service charges, Kshs 1.7B from concessions and Kshs 3 B from landing and parking fees – half of which are probably paid for by Kenya Airways. JKIA handled 100,000 aircraft takeoffs/landings and processed 6.7 million passengers (out of the 9.6 million KAA handled in total) and 235 million tons of cargo.

But KAA also comes with it a lot of politics such as tussles over the composition of its board and top management and project disputes such as the Greenfield terminal at JKIA, and with private developers such as World Duty Free at JKIA and other land disputes at various airports around the country.

The newspaper report (Business Daily) also mentions that the proposed partnership with will also see Kenya Airways exempted from payments of some Value Added Tax (VAT) and the Railway Development Levy, a 1.5% tax on all imports into Kenya that is meant to finance ongoing development of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). 

EDIT Sept 3, 2019: Kenya Airways formally withdrew the Privately Initiated Investment Proposal (PIIP) following a quarterly meeting of its board of directors on August 27 2019.

Kenya Airways and Delta Codeshare

EDIT: 11 April 2019: Kenya Airways has activated its codeshare with Delta Airlines that will enable connectivity to 11 US cities (Chicago, Houston, Denver, Orlando, Miami, Raleigh, Phoenix Philadelphia, Charlotte, Columbus, and Kansas City) and 4 Canadian cities (Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton). It also announced a switch from five to seven weekly flights to New York from June to serve the 2019 summer season.

EDIT 15 August 2018  Delta Air Lines entered into a codeshare partnership with Kenya Airways. Effective August 15, Delta’s code will be placed on Kenya Airways’ flights from Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Accra to Nairobi, enhancing connectivity and providing customers with a one-stop seamless travel experience from the United States. In addition, Delta will place its code on Kenya Airways’ services to more than 10 key cities across Africa, including: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Lilongwe, Malawi; Maputo, Mozambique; Johannesburg, South Africa and Djibouti City, Djibouti.

May 10 2018 Delta Air Lines and Kenya Airways have applied to the US Department of Transportation with an expedited request for the two airlines to be expeditiously granted reciprocal codeshare rights for each others’ flights.

The application (PDF) dated 7th May, applies to Delta and Delta Connection flights in North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean to carry the Kenya Airways (KQ) code, while the Kenya Airways will immediately place Delta’s code (DL) on flights between Nairobi to/from Johannesburg (South Africa), Lilongwe, (Malawi), Djibouti (Rep. of Djibouti) and Maputo, (Mozambique).

Delta routes will be part of the codeshare.

Delta which reaches 325 destinations, currently has services to Dakar (Senegal), Lagos, Accra, and Johannesburg, while Kenya Airways is scheduled to start flights to New York in October 2018. There is no mention of Air France/KLM, who have been Kenya Airways long-term joint-venture partner for two decades, in the new US codeshare application.

The new codeshare arrangement which covers “persons, property, and mail,” is an expansion of a previously approved reciprocal codeshare arrangement between Northwest Airlines and Kenya Airways for flights originating in Kenya and North America. Northwest merged with Delta in 2009. The new codeshare will also extend to all Delta Connection regional affiliate airlines (namely Compass Airlines, Endeavor Air, ExpressJet Airlines, GoJet Airlines, Republic Airline and SkyWest Airlines).

Aside from Kenya, Ethiopian Airlines, which flies to several American destinations of Washington (DC), Newark, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto (Canada), Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Rio de Janeiro & São Paulo (Brazil) is also expanding its American network via routes in West Africa. The airline is reported to have secured rights to fly passengers to Houston via Accra, while it also confirmed that it had entered a codeshare with Air Côte d’Ivoire for flights to Newark via Abidjan.