KQ signs pact with Airtel for voice and data service


Kenya Airways chief executive Titus Naikuni at a past event. The carrier will ride on Airtel’s network to offer voice and data telecommunication services. FILE PHOTO | NATION

Kenya Airways has ventured into the mobile telecommunications industry with the signing of an agreement that will see the airline offer phone connections to its customers.

The national carrier will ride on Airtel’s network to offer voice and data telecommunication services under the recently introduced Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) licence.

Kenya Airways is targeting a fraction of the millions of incoming and outgoing passengers that it flies every year.

“Through this partnership with Airtel, we are optimistic that our guests will soon be enjoying a service that allows them better calling rates while in Kenya or roaming within the wide Airtel network,” said Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni in a statement.

He said the mobile communications service would help KQ improve customer experience while diversifying revenue streams.

For the Essar Group-owned Airtel, the deal provides yet another opportunity to use its excess frequency capacity and add to its top line.

The carrier becomes the fourth non-telecommunications company to sign a deal with Airtel for provision of mobile phone and banking services through the MVNO licence.

Three other firms, including Equity Bank’s subsidiary Finserve, ZionCell and Tangaza Pesa were issued with similar licences in April.

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“We are greatly encouraged by the shared vision with Kenya Airways and the common urgency to find solutions that will enable travelling customers connect to their loved ones and businesses throughout their travel,  Airtel Africa CEO Christian de Faria said.

The latest industry report released by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) late last month indicated that for the three months to March, the volume of roaming voice traffic declined by 33.2 per cent to 8.5 million minutes, from 12.7 million minutes posted during the previous quarter.

The decline was also experienced in outgoing SMS that declined by 36.4 per cent during the quarter to 7.1 million messages down from 11.2 million messages.

“This decline could be attributed to customers’ preference to buy and use foreign SIM cards in order to avoid incurring high roaming charges,” said the CA in the report.

KQ and Airtel will, however, have to get regulatory approval from the CA before launching the telecommunications service.

The CA director general Francis Wangusi Thursday told the Business Daily that the two have not yet filed their application.

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