, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 30 – Kenya Airways (KQ) expects the Nairobi – New York route launched on Sunday will boost revenue by 10 percent next year.
Speaking to CNN’s Richard Quest on Quest Means Business, Kenya Airways Chief Executive Sebastian Mikosz says the new route is a big turning point for the airline that has been struggling to get back to profitability.
He says the move will see Nairobi become the Hub for Africa.
“We are just the fifth African Airline, and the sixth airline flying not stop between North America and Africa. In this Industry nobody makes business day one, you have to build a route and give yourself time for the public to know about the product and sales power to kick in,” Mikosz said.
Kenya Airways already serves at least 40 destinations in Africa alone and also flies to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Indian Sub Continent.
The launch of the extra long haul flight is also expected to attract more US corporations into the Kenyan market, to add to the more than 40 that have already set base in Nairobi as their Africa headquarters.
The National carrier posted a half-year loss of Sh3.9 billion, a 30 percent improvement from the Sh5.7bn the airline posted in the first half of 2017.
The airline’s revenue increased to Sh52.1 billion from Sh50 billion same period last year fueled by higher passenger numbers of 2.3 million, an increase of 6.6pc.
Cabin factor – the capacity utilization that measures the efficiency of an airline – increased by 2.8 points to 75.9 percent.
However, operating costs increased by 13.9pc due to increased pressure on global fuel prices.
Fleet costs and overheads are down by 2.2pc and 20.4pc respectively attributable to the fleet rationalization and restructuring in November 2017.
Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph said that despite improve performance, fuel price volatility continues to be a major challenge for the airline.
Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner from Nairobi to New York landed at the John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday at 3pm carrying 234 passengers from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The long-haul flight lasted 15 hours, reducing the journey by over 7 hours.
Besides Kenya, Cape Verde, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa are the other African countries with the Category 1 access to the US.