While KQ seemingly has been more aggressive in rebuilding capacity in the domestic market following an unprecedented demand collapse earlier this year due to COVID-19, the carrier appears to be facing hurdles in rebuilding its international capacity.
Kenya Airways is reportedly assessing its Nairobi – New York route and could know its viability by the end of this year.
“We are currently doing a cabin factor of 55 percent of our flights capacity and flying twice a week as opposed to seven days,” the airline chief Alan Kilavuka told lawmakers.
“We don’t think the route will be profitable in 2021. Flights have not resumed fully because we are doing 55 percent cabin factor and 60 percent load factor… We started flights to New York late 2018 and we flew in 2019 but the same was cut short by Covid-19 where we did not fly most of 2020,” Kilavuka said.
The US route is one of the crucial destinations for the national carrier as it plays a major role in connecting travelers who transit through JKIA.
The carrier had forecast its daily direct flights to the US would boost annual revenues by more than 10 percent in 2019 and 2020 and was aimed to encourage more business and tourist travel, with the US being one of Kenya’s biggest sources of visitors.
But with long-haul travel demand likely to remain depressed for years and given its need to maximize cash flow to chip away at its massive debt load, the airline has no other good options.
By Victor Shalton Odhiambo