Shipping & Logistics

Kenya Airways raises US flights to three every week


A Kenya Airways flight approaches landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. The US government has granted the airline a permit to operate direct flights. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya Airways has increased frequencies to the US to three a week as demand for summer bookings pick up, coming as a relief to the carrier that is struggling with low numbers due to Covid-19 restrictions.

KQ said it has seen increased demand on bookings in the route and increased frequencies from one weekly to match the growing travel.

The airline has been struggling with low numbers on the US route, a move that saw the carrier suspend the flights to one weekly after resuming operations last year November following months of grounding, occasioned by the Covid-19.

“We have seen an increase in numbers and we have had to ramp up our frequencies to three from one previously,” said the airline.

The US route is one of the crucial destinations for the national carrier as it plays a major role in connecting travellers who transit through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Kenya Airways had forecast its daily direct flights to the US would boost annual revenues by more than 10 percent in 2019 and 2020.

KQ is the only airline in the East Africa that flies directly to the US, making it easier for passengers from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to connect through Nairobi.

The carrier early this month announced resumption of Kilimanjaro route after suspending it last year. KQ said the resumption of service to this destination is aligned to the US flights, where connecting passengers from America will be flown to Kilimanjaro via JKIA.

The airline is operating two flights a week on the route with plans to scale frequencies to three next month.

The airline had cancelled the route last year in March owing to low loads between Nairobi and Kilimanjaro, making the route commercially unviable.

The national carrier normally makes the bulk of its revenue at the onset of summer that runs through June to September when demand for air travel is high.

A sharp decline on summer bookings last year saw Kenya Airways losses nearly triple to Sh36.2 billion in the year ending December as the carrier sank deeper into the red following a slump in passenger numbers occasioned by Covid-19.

Passenger revenue during the period slumped by Sh69 billion following the grounding of airlines as different countries closed their airspace.

Kenya Airways started direct flights to the US in October 2018, cutting the journey to 15 hours on the long haul route tapped as part of an effort to revive the airline’s fortunes.