Kenya Airways will have to cope with slow revenue growth on the European Union route as the Dutch aviation regulator declined to allow the Kenyan carrier to fly daily to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
KQ, as the national carrier is known by its international code, is currently flying to Schiphol five times per week. It had applied in October last year to fly daily to the destination in a move that was aimed at growing its revenue.
But the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate of Netherlands declined the request as the country continues to extend the limits on outbound passengers from the airport.
In June last year, Amsterdam capped the number of passengers that the national carrier can carry from Schiphol to Nairobi to 78 percent of its capacity on every flight.
The move implied that KQ and other carriers will not be allowed to operate at full capacity out of Schiphol.
“We submitted the Amsterdam slots request in October 2022 for seven frequencies effective summer (March 26, 2023). We followed up last November and so far they have declined the seven and only approved five weekly flights,” Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka told the Business Daily.
Europe was the second-highest revenue earner for the airline in 2021 raking in Sh11.3 billion.
London’s Heathrow and Schiphol are the busiest airports in Europe as airlines use them as transit hubs to other regions across the world.
The Dutch restrictions have been challenged by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and airlines such as KLM that have vowed to mount a legal challenge.
Schiphol Airport is already restricted to 500,000 flights annually. The government’s decree, IATA says, would reduce Schiphol connectivity to 460,000 flights from November 2023.
“The Netherlands is handicapping its economy by destroying connectivity. And it is doing it in contravention of EU law and its international obligations,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
“The dangerous precedent that this illegal approach creates left no choice but to challenge them in court,” he said.
The Schiphol restrictions come at a time major airports in Europe have been grappling with a sharp rise in the number of passengers on the back of a shortage of workers, as the airlines and airports struggle to recruit back after cutting jobs at the height of Covid-19 in 2020.