Kenyan Airways has signaled its intention to cover previously unserviced routes in Africa and Asia, particularly China and India. The East African airline has budgeted $3.3 million (P21 million) in its bid to spread its wings further afield, says Managing Director, Titus Naikuni.
Naikuni said that the airline currently flies some three million passengers every year, a figure that it plans to increase to six million annually. To push ahead with its ambitious plan to conquer new skies, Kenya Airways has ordered three Boeing 777 and nine Boeing 787 aircraft.
Delivery dates for these are set for 2014.
Naikuni also revealed the airline’s plans to order five 737 (800) and three 777 (700) planes. In the meantime, Kenya’s major airport, Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International airport, is due for expansion to include more civil aviation facilities.
“SkyTeam membership allows Kenya Airways passengers access to over 926 destinations in 173 countries and over 490 lounges globally. Through Kenya Airways, SkyTeam partner airline passengers can access the former’s expansive destination network in Africa,” said Naikuni.
In its three years of operating, the Gaborone route, the airline has received good reception via its three weekly flights on the Gaborone-Nairobi connection, Naikuni added.
However, Naikuni said that the East African carrier’s ambitious plan to ply even more routes has been set back by cash constraints. He said adding more routes calls for a huge cash injection, but like other regional airlines, Kenya Airways is struggling to stay profitable.
With trans-Atlantic countries looking at African airlines suspiciously because of a recent poor air safety record, Kenya Airways is emphasising the efficiency of its operational systems in order to ensure safety and quality of service to its customers.
“As an airline that is seeking to strengthen its global presence, we have to ensure we adhere to the highest safety standards. This will also help strengthen and sustain the confidence of our passengers as we seek to grow and open new markets,” Naikuni explained.
He said taking on new routes highlights the airline’s ambitious growth plans to expand its network as part of a 10 year growth strategy. Already, the carrier has added Mumbai as its second destination to India. In the foreseeable future, four more destinations in the subcontinent will be added, Naikuni said.
He said the current challenges that interfere with the operations of Kenyan Airways include infrastructure in some countries, bad weather as well as wars and language barriers. Naikuni added that Kenya Airways, the fastest growing airline in the continent, is pursuing a network expansion strategy that aims to link all African countries with the world, making it the airline of choice for travelers in the continent.
“We are busy training our staff members for business and we are ready for operation as soon as more ordered flights arrive. We are also looking forward to expand to other global stock exchange markets as Kenyan government has 23 percent shareholding,” he said.