Kenya Airways (KQ) will resume its passenger flights on 8th June 2020, even as the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) continues to place the necessary safety measures ahead of the opening of the country’s airports for passengers.
A majority of the airline’s 36 aircraft, including 9 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 10 Boeing 737 aircraft, and 17 Embraers, have remained grounded since 25th March after the government suspended all international passenger flights, in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
In an interview with the Star, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia says that however, the resumption is subject to strict adherence to medical protocol, including spacing at check-ins, waiting bays, sanitizing, and neutralizing of the middle seats in aircraft.
KQ CEO, Allan Kilavuka, warns that neutralizing the middle seat in aircraft will result in fewer seats and subsequently lead to higher cost of air tickets by between 50% and 100%. He added that the airline will start with local flights before moving to regional routes and inter-continental schedules.
The resumption of flights comes even as the government of Kenya has refused to commit itself to KQ’s request for a KSh7 billion emergency funding for the maintenance of the grounded aircraft, payment of staff salaries, and settlement of utility bills like security, water, electricity, and parking fees. Treasury CS, Ukur Yattani, argues that the government is already in the process of setting up a holding company to combine the airline and the airport operator.
On 26th May, the airline reported a net loss of KSh12.98 billion in 2019, up from KSh7.56 billion recorded in 2018. Its revenues in 2019 increased by 12.4% to KSh128.32 billion from KSh114.19 billion in 2018, attributed mainly due to the expansion of the Kenya Airways network.
Passenger numbers in 2019 hit a record 5.1 million, a 6.7% increase due to investments in new routes such as Geneva, Rome, and Malindi. KQ recorded a 6.3% growth in cargo tonnage from 64,238 tonnes to 68,264 tonnes in 2019.
Since the suspension of passenger flights, the carrier resorted to cargo business, which raked in KSh214 million in revenues in April.