Kenya Airways was founded in 1977 after the dissolution of East African Airways and is the national airline of the East African nation of Kenya. The airline is headquartered in Nairobi’s central business district in Embakasi and has its main hub at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NCO) in Nairobi.
Kenya Airways has nine Boeing 787s. Photo: Getty Images
Kenya Airways was wholly owned by the Kenyan government until 1996, when it was successfully privatized as the first African airline. Although the Kenyan government is listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange, Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange and Uganda Securities Exchange, the Kenyan government still holds a 48.9% stake.
A bank consortium owns 38.1% and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has a 7.8% stake in the airline. The outstanding shares are owned by private individuals. Kenya Airways joined several other national airlines when it joined the SkyTeam alliance in 2010.
Kenya Airways has 36 aircraft
In the past, Kenya Airways operated a mixed fleet of Airbus, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Fokker, Embraer and ATR aircraft. Today the East African Airline operates a scaled-down fleet of 36 aircraft consisting of Boeing and Embraer aircraft. According to the aviation data and statistics website ch-aviation, Air Kenya’s fleet consists of the following aircraft:
- 2 x Boeing 737-300 freighters
- 2 x Boeing 737-700
- 8 x Boeing 737-800
- 9 x Boeing 787 Dreamliners
- 15 x ERJ 190-100ARs
Of these aircraft, Kenya Airways owns 19 aircraft and leases the other 17 to lessors, including Nordic Aviation Capital and GECAS. Kenya Airways serves 41 destinations in Africa and 13 other destinations with its aircraft, using its flagship Boeing 787 Dreamliner. With an average age of 9.6 years, Kenya Airways operates one of the youngest aircraft fleets in Africa. Before the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically affected air travel, Kenya Airways was flying over four million passengers a year.
Leadership wants consolidation
Before the global medical emergency decimated the aviation industry, Kenya Airways wanted to expand its fleet to better compete with the African powerhouse Ethiopian Airlines. That’s the last thing Allan Kilavuka, CEO of Kenya Airways, thinks about today.
Allan Kilavuka, CEO of Kenya Airways. Photo: Kenya Airways
As things stand in a post-COVID-19 world, passenger demand will not be enough to support the number of airlines currently operating on the African continent. The fact is, 2019 passenger numbers could take years to recover, and many airlines don’t have the financial backing to weather the storm.
Because of this, Kilavuka believes that consolidation is essential for further development. In a webinar with fellow African airline bosses during the height of the pandemic, How We Made It In Africa quotes Mr Kilavuka as saying:
“It will be important for us to consolidate both within the country and across the various African countries in order to be able to use our assets more effectively. So I personally believe that we have to do that. “
Kenya Airways lost 36.57 billion shillings ($ 333 million) in 2020 and has asked its largest shareholder, the Kenyan government, to help it survive. The current joint venture between Kenya Airways and Air France-KLM expires in September, and CEO Kilavuka is considering a possible merger. Speaking to the news service Reuters earlier this year about the situation of Kenya Airways, the former Jambojet boss said:
“We’re getting through now, but at some point we have to consolidate.”
Last month, Kenya Airways signed an interline agreement with South Africa’s Airlink to allow passengers to transfer between both airlines across Africa. This allows Kenya Airways passengers to fly to destinations in southern Africa via Airlink hubs in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Airlink passengers can also transfer to East African destinations via Nairobi and Mombasa.
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Surprisingly, the agreement does not allow Airlink customers to fly Kenya Airways destinations in Asia, Europe and North America. This may mean that Kenya Airways is open to working with a major international airline.
Kenya Airways has used its 787 converted Dreamliner to transport Kenyan flowers. Photo: Kenya Airways
Before the pandemic, Kenya Airways wanted to bring tourists from all over the world to Africa with its Dreamliners. Now that this market is suppressed, Kenya Airways could convert another of their 787 Dreamliners into a temporary freighter. No matter what, Kenya Airways will have a hard time without support for the next few years.
What do you think the future of Kenya Airlines looks like? Please let us know what you think in the comments.