Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Kenya Airways set to Rock east Africa's transport industry

The pride of Africa:The mother airline
KENYA AIRWAYS IS SET TO ROCK THE transport industry in east Africa, and perhaps Africa. By the time you read this piece, Kenya Airways will be three -airlines in -one while its fleet will have grown by one. Jambojet, Kenya airways’ low budget subsidiary will launch on April 1st. The other airline, Precision Air, is based in Tanzania.

On April 4th the airline will probably have received the first of six Boeing787 Dream liners to be delivered within the next 12 months.  In effect, the airline’s fleet will grow to 51 brand new aircraft by May 2015. It will also have grown to three airlines in one.

These developments should sound a warning signal to all players in the transport sector that things have changed.  It is not business as usual for KQ  will give them a run for their money.

Jambojet, the no frills subsidiary will initially fly between Mombasa-Nairobi-Eldoret and Kisumu where it expects to ship some 0.6 million Kenyans this year.  This is 27 per cent of the 2.2 million passengers who travel this route by road per year.  In the next two years, jambojet expects to fly 2 million passengers within east Africa, a huge chunk of these will be on Kenyan routes.
Precision air


Bus companies on these routes are therefore put on notice. It is no longer business as usual. The road transport sector has every reason to be wary of Kenya’ Airways designs for they cannot compete.

The airline’s air ticket is just Kshs 800 more than what some luxury buses charge for seven hour journey between Nairobi and Mombasa.  The trip by air takes 45 minutes putting long haul bus companies on an unequal keel.

  Jambojet will operate B737 aircraft which also boast 30.2M3 of cargo space.  That puts long haul freight firms on notice that it is no longer business as usual. They now have competition from the air.

 The entry of the Long haul B787 Dream liners and their close relatives B777-300 means that Kenya Airways will fly long haul to such places as China, South Korea, Australia and even the US. It has a cargo hold of 202M3 meaning it can airfreight more cargo, especially the perishable Horticultural produce. Kenya is exploring new markets for cut flowers in China and the east. With such large aircraft, such business is now feasible.

Kenya Airways is one of the two African airlines that are growing. At the current rate of expansion KQ will dominate the Africa airspace in less than 10 years. The only other strong airline in Sub Saharan Africa is Ethiopian Airlines. Therefore the contest for the dominance of the African airspace is between KQ and ET. It is upgrading its long haul capacity to supplement its short haul capacity. It short haul capacity includes 12 Brazilian made  Embraers .The aircraft is said to be suitable for short haul routes especially in Africa. Kenya Airways is gunning for domination of the African Market which is the airline’s lifeline.
Jambojet:The new kid on the block

The B787 dream liner is the first in a fleet of nine whose orders have been firmed. Six of these, plus a B777-300 are to be delivered between April, 2014 and May next year. There will still be three more to deliver. In its 10 current year- development plan to 2021, the airline plans to raise its fleet to 119 aircraft and expand its destinations to 110 from the current 50.


Kenya Airways is the only successful privatised airline in Africa- and perhaps in the world. It is the youngest airline in Africa being only 36 years old but it is a major player in African aviation industry. It is owned 26 per cent by Air-France-KLM, 22 per cent by the Kenya Government and the rest by private investors. It competes for domination of the African skies with Ethiopian Airlines (ET) and South African Airways, SAA. Both SAA and ET are the oldest airlines in Africa. In fact SAA is among the oldest airlines in the world.


Apart from hardware advantages, physical location could also play a major role on determining who has the largest pie. Kenya Airways’ home base is Jomo Kenyatta international Airport in Nairobi.  Nairobi is a natural hub of the continent being located, as it were, in the middle of the continent.  Its location makes connections to and from other destinations in Africa convenient. It also makes connections from Africa to the rest of the world seamless. That location could be KQ’s selling point.


The Airport itself is undergoing massive expansion which includes the construction of a green field terminal that will raise its capacity to 20 million passengers. The Greenfield terminal to be developed in two phases will expand JKIA’s capacity by 12 million passengers to more than 20 million passengers a year in Phase I. It will have a parking capacity, including “remote parking” for 60 aircraft bringing the total number of available parking slots over hundred aircraft. 

This could give a larger Kenya Airways advantage over the competition.  The future for African Airspace is headed for interesting times. Will Kenya Airways dominate? Let’s keep watching this space. But the aviation industry in Africa will never be the same again.


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