Kenya’s new bird stirs pride in Africa

The KQ Boeing 787 Dreamliner landed in Nairobi on April 5. Photo/JOSEPH MURAYA
The KQ Boeing 787 Dreamliner landed in Nairobi on April 5. Photo/JOSEPH MURAYA

, NAIROBI Kenya, Apr 6 – After sixteen hours and 10 minutes, the much awaited Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner dubbed ‘the Great Rift Valley’ landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where it was welcomed by a thrilled audience.

Though it landed at 11:50am, media crew had pitched camp at the airport as early as 7.30am to receive the aircraft. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somali Counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud led the huge audience of enthusiastic Kenyans who wanted to catch a glimpse of the new plane.

“It will land in the next 20 minutes so set your cameras for the best photos,” a Kenya Airport Authority staff told journalists who had started complaining of the scorching sun outside, just next to the state pavilion.

To get the best shot for both video and still cameras, we boarded an airport bus to go to the runway to capture the moment the plane touched the ground.

“It’s a huge plane but I hope I got the landing point,” a reporter said; he had missed a good shot.

After it taxied to a halt and dignitaries disembarked after a long trip from Seattle, it was time for speeches.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport Michael Kamau was to welcome the President for his speech after a brief address.
“I have a written speech Mr. President, but because of the excitement that I have, I will not read it,” he said amid laughter from the audience.

On his part, the President in addition to saying the new plane will boost the economy, praised Kenya Airways as “the best in the whole world, and this I say out of experience over many years.”

“And this is as far as commercial airplanes are concerned. The only people who beat Kenya Airways are the Kenya Airforce pilots and crew who indeed are the best that the world has to offer,” he said, paying tribute to his official air travel crew.

“That is why Titus Naikuni (Kenya Airways Managing Director) keeps on ‘poaching’ them,” he said, this time leaving people in laughter.

“I hope he realises that poaching in Kenya became illegal many days ago; it has heavy penalties these days.”
The plane is the first of six 787s which Kenya Airways has ordered as part of its modernization programme.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is expected to form the backbone of the airline’s future long-haul fleet, providing greater range, improved efficiencies and outstanding passenger comfort.

“I am informed that today our labour is less productive than our closest competitor, the Ethiopian Airline. Any legacy arrangements that may have worked in a fairly stable operating environment need to be challenged in this period of rapid growth to ensure that we get the best possible results from a productivity perspective,” the President said.

Somalia president also had kind words for the plane. “It is a great opportunity for me to stand here and celebrate the Pride of Africa. This will link Africa further which was not easy for many years.”

  • hehe

    Now pimp my Airport infrastracture the way KQ pimped it’s fleet!

  • John Mark

    If KQ is smart they should operate these nine upcoming 787-8 aircraft until like 2019. 2030 (Maximum) and then lease them to some other airlines as they soup up their fleet with even better aircraft that will have come up then like the 777-8X and 737MAX aircraft or A320NEO or A321NEO. Though it’s smarter to keep your fleet to a maximum of two aircraft manufacturers. KQ has done well with staying committed to Embraer and Boeing. I however think with the rising traffic and rising middle class, they should think about the 737MAX to replace their Embraers in the future and keep their fleet to one manufacturer to lower their operating costs. The brazilian embraer is a nice aircraft manufacturer though!
    The French designed Kenya’s Airspace limitations. I however think it’s outdated and needs to be revised. To bad there aren’t many qualified locals. There are only less than 8 qualified Kenyans who can do this. They need to be in KCAA or KAA like yesterday.
    I have some reasonable experience managing an airline with over 100 aircraft. One thing I noticed and learnt is that it pays big time to operate new aircraft models, have a seat pitch minimum of 32 inches unless it’s a low budget airline e.g jambojet, easyjet,fastjet etc. I also noticed how marketing plays a role in the Aircraft Load factor, due to aggressive marketing in the thousands and in some markets in the millions. We managed to keep our Passenger Load factor above 80% in all our routes. Most of this is attributed to our worldclass employee training, superior services like seat pitch(leg room) and friendliness, offers and codeshare flight agreements.
    As KQ grows I would like to tell it’s future CEO that managing an airline with over 100 aircraft is quite a headache but a joy. If you purchase the wrong aircraft or configure the wrong seat pitch etc. The effect will be felt for years even a decade as passengers nowadays look at seat pitch, aircraft model and pay keen attention to Customer service onboard and while checking in. My challenge to the next KQ CEO is to bring KQ from a 3 Star Airline to a 5 Star like Asiana,Qatar,Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, ANA All Nippon Airways (Surprisingly most of them are in Asia and Middle East).
    My challenge to KQ’s next CEO is that you have the infrastracture to reach Skytrax 5 star Rating. Then will you not only be the first in Africa but you will truly be the Pride Of Africa.My average fleet age never exceeded 10 years, at most I replaced all aircraft after they approached 13 years of heavy use( 9 weekly takeoffs)or over 20,000-29,000 flight hours on which I leased them to other airlines or sold them to maintain my good Star Rating. I also sold some of them before they reached their C checks and D checks which cost lots of money. Goodluck and always seek advice from the best in the industry and hire the best in the industry as I always had the best before making decisions. Goodluck.

    CHALLENGE TO NEXT CEO: Reach 5 Star Airline Status and observe how the World reacts!

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