Saturday, 9 June 2018

KENYA: Kenya Airways With Better Performance Goes To Mauritius

Kenya Airways commenced operations between Nairobi (NBO) and Mauritius (MRU) on 7 June, a 3,096-kilometre sector that the African carrier will operate four times weekly.

The investment and trade opportunities presented by this direct flight will certainly add value to both countries, commented Jan De Vegt, COO of Kenya Airways, on the service.

The route will also have great impact on our upcoming non-stop flights to New York JFK by reinforcing its attractiveness to the American premium leisure travellers, he added.

The SkyTeam member will connect the two airports using its fleet of E190s, with competition coming in the form of Air Mauritius which offers twice-weekly flights using its fleet of A319s.

Kenya Airways grew annual traffic by 71% over the past decade, with it flying 4.46 million passengers during the FY16/17 calendar.

As stated by De Vegt, the carrier will soon launch flights to New York JFK, a service which will begin on 19 October.

Presently this is the only new route scheduled to be launched by the airline from the Kenyan capital this year.

Kenya Airways is in an improving state at the moment.

While for the last financial year (FY16/17) it posted an 8.5% reduction in turnover to 106,277,000,000 KES (€855 million), its operating profit increased by an impressive 122% according to the airline’s last annual report.

Kenya Airways moved into the black by producing a 897,000,000 KES profit (€7.2 million – €32.9 million loss in FY15/16).

These positive financial indicators hopefully mean that it is in a more stable position to take on the risks associated with new route decisions.

Currently the airline has a fleet of 32 passenger aircraft when referencing ch-aviation, with this total being made-up of: two 737-700s; eight 737-800s; seven 787-8s; and 15 E190s.

The airline also has two 737-300s for freighter services, meaning in total there is currently 34 aircraft in its fleet, with the average age of the units being 6.4 years.

In FY16/17 Kenya Airways carried 4.46 million passengers, an increase of 5.4% when compared to its total for FY15/16.

In the same period, the airline increased its average load factor across its network from just above 68% to 72%, the first time that the carrier has passed the 70% threshold since FY11/12.

Last year’s result being the best that the airline has recorded since FY07/08 when it achieved a load factor of just under 74%.
Kenya Airways Routes
While the 5.4% increase in passengers numbers is indeed an improvement from the 1.2% rise that was observed between FY14/15 and FY15/16, it is only the fourth best year for growth in the period analysed.

From FY10/11 to FY11/12, traffic went up by over 26% from 2.89 million to 3.64, while a surge of above 12% was encountered from FY13/14 to FY14/15, and a 6.2% incline was recorded between FY07/08 and FY08/09.

While the distance between Nairobi and Mombasa by road is around 480 kilometres, the time it takes to drive the route can still take up to nine hours, meaning that flying is the most viable option for travel between Kenya’s two largest cities.

It is therefore of no surprise that the Mombasa route is the #1 for the nation’s flag carrier from the capital, with Kenya Airways offering between eight and nine daily flights on the city pair.

While it is the number one route, the link has saw annual seat capacity reduced by close to 14% between 2016 and 2017, the worst performance recorded of the airline’s top services from the capital.

One factor for Kenya Airways choosing to reduce its frequency on the route from around nine to 10 daily flights is due to the increased competition on the sector.

Particularly with the arrival of LCC Jambojet, a subsidiary of Kenya Airways, with it offering up to six daily flights.

Along with Mombasa, the domestic link to Kisumu the fifth largest route, has also seen a capacity drop, along with Bangkok Suvarnabhumi.

Of the routes in the top 12, three are the airline’s long-haul connections to Europe, namely Amsterdam, London Heathrow and Paris CDG, with two being domestic, two in Asia and one in the Middle East, and remaining four being in other African countries.

While the airline did add Victoria Falls to its network in 2017, the carrier has cut service to three airports since the beginning of 2016, namely Malindi - ended 7 August 2016, Gaborone and Abuja - both 13 November 2016.

The carrier’s next route launch from Nairobi is to New York JFK in October, a route it will operate daily on 787-8s, with this inauguration date being 18 months after the airline’s first flight to Victoria Falls.

In 2017 there was around 23,800 indirect passengers between Nairobi and JFK, with a US/African traffic origin split of 52/48, showing that there is more demand for the route from the US end of the city pair.

The top three hubs for connecting traffic between the two airports last year were Dubai 34% of traffic – all on Emirates, London Heathrow 16% – majority on British Airways and Doha 13% – all Qatar Airways.

So with two of the three top airlines serving indirect passengers being oneworld members, this is certainly an interesting move by the SkyTeam carrier which will surly be aiming to capture that demand.

Interestingly Amsterdam, a SkyTeam hub for KLM, which has a Kenya Airways service from Nairobi, was fourth in the rankings for JFK-bound traffic in 2017 9.7% – demand split between KLM and Delta Air Lines.

Kenya Airways, a SkyTeam member, has a well established hub at Nairobi, with it surely hoping to fill some capacity on its JFK service with feeder traffic.

Another airline which is not too far away geographically, which also has a strong based operation in East Africa, is Ethiopian Airlines (Star Alliance), a carrier with already well established services into the US including New York (Newark), along with a strong, global non-African route network.

In FY07/08, Ethiopian Airlines transported just over 2.50 million passengers, 100,000 less than Kenya Airways during that financial period.

In FY15/16, when Kenya Airways flew 4.23 million people, Ethiopian Airlines greeted just over 7.50 million, 3.3 million more than the Nairobi-based operator, showing that the Star Alliance member has been more ambitious with its growth in recent years.

Back in 2007, Kenya Airways offered just under 540,000 departing seats on non-African routes from Nairobi, with Ethiopian Airlines’ non-African network supporting 760,000 seats, around 41% more than its East African neighbour.

In 2017, the Addis Ababa-based carrier was offering 2.55 million one-way seats to points outside of its home continent, a whopping 311% larger than that being flown by Kenya Airways, with it only providing 620,000 seats.

Outside of Africa, Kenya Airways will be operating to eight airports in 2018, namely Amsterdam, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Dubai, Jeddah, Heathrow, Mumbai, New York JFK and Paris CDG.

In terms of the airline’s turnover, it intercontinental routes accounted for 48% of the money taken by the carrier in FY16/17 according to the airline’s financial report, down from 49% in FY15/16.

The only one of these city pairs that Ethiopian Airlines does not serve from Addis Ababa is Amsterdam, and while the Star Alliance carrier does serve Newark, the route is via Lome in Togo, meaning Kenya Airways will be the only carrier offering non-stop services from East Africa in 2018.

Tourism Observer

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