NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5 – Kenya Airways first Boeing 787 Dreamliner landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Saturday, to a warm reception led by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The jet, christened ‘The Great Rift Valley’ is the first of six 787s which Kenya Airways has ordered as part of its mordernisation programme.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner will form the backbone of the airline’s future long-haul fleet, providing greater range, improved efficiencies and outstanding passenger comfort.
Speaking during the function, President Kenyatta said the delivery of the Dreamliner paves way for Kenya Airways to further deepen trade connections with the world, especially through long haul flights.
“I have no doubt; this will result in the growth of trade, tourism and other forms of interaction with the rest of the world,” President Kenyatta said.
He said the project is important as it fulfils key priorities of government of attracting investment and creation of jobs.
To support Kenya Airways, said the President, the Government has been expanding Airport facilities and currently there is progress in building a new temporary terminal with a capacity of 2.5 million passengers a year.
He expressed his Government’s determination to expand Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to ensure it fulfils its mandate as the air hub for East and Central Africa.
He, therefore, announced that Terminal 4 which provides an excellent service as an arrival facility will be fully commissioned in July this year.
“A new 20 million passenger terminal is also already under construction. We are confident, that the standard of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport will, indeed, be significantly enhanced as an international hub when these projects are all completed,” the President added.
He reiterated the Government’s efforts to move the agenda of national transformation ahead by providing quality air services noting that infrastructure development is critical to economic growth.
He said the airline, which has more global presence than the embassies that Kenya has opened around the world, needs to continuously provide quality services to create a lasting impression.
He however said as Kenya Airways expands, it needs to always remember that it operates in a global context.
“Pilot costs are a significant part of your payroll. This is not just in salaries, but also training across fleets, productivity and other related fields,” President Kenyatta said.
He said for the country to remain competitive, it needs to optimise its labour arrangements.
“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,” he added.
He said the growth of Kenya Airways is important for tourism as it facilitates the increase projected in international tourist numbers.
Noting that 1.16 million tourists visited the country from across the world in 2012/13 financial year, earning Kenya over Sh96 billion, President Kenyatta said the investments by Kenya tourism stakeholders; will help the Government achieve its target of three million tourist arrivals a year in next three years.
He said the Government is committed to improving infrastructure so that other stakeholders like Kenya Airways can deliver quality services and play their part in growing the economy.
The delivery of 787s and 777-300ER airplanes is part of KQs ten-year strategic plan called “Project Mawingu”
The project will increase KQs fleet from 44 airplanes to 107 by 2021.