Air fares to increase over doubling of jet fuel prices


A Kenya Airways ground crew checks-in passengers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, on August 1, 2020. PHOTO | AFP

Air ticket and freight charges are set to increase after the doubling of jet fuel prices in what threatens to slow recovery from the coronavirus crisis in the aviation industry.

Jet fuel prices have doubled to $ 750 (Sh83,100) per metric tonne in the past year, according to data from the International Air Transport Association and Platts.

Airline operators in Kenya said they will seek to pass the extra cost to consumers to remain afloat, a move that looks set to further depress the number of passengers seeking to use air travel.

Mr Alex Avedi, the chief executive officer of Safarilink Airline, while bracing for low passenger numbers, said they have no choice but to increase the charges.

“We shall definitely increase the price of the ticket to match the rising cost of fuel,” said Mr Avedi adding the airline may be forced to cut frequencies on some of its routes.

Most airlines gave up hedging future fuel demand due to the turmoil in the oil market last year, leaving them more exposed than usual to subsequent surges in oil prices.

Mr Eutychus Waithaka, executive secretary of the Kenya Association of Air Operators, said they had already written to the Treasury seeking a waiver on taxes to shield them from the rising cost of fuel.

“We are badly hurt by the rising cost of fuel. It doesn’t do any good to an industry that is yet to recover from the effects of Covid-19. We are going to pass the extra cost to our consumers,” said Mr Waithaka.

The lobby wants the government to abolish the five percent excise duty levied on jet fuel and aircraft spares parts.