A strike and pilot sabotage are among factors that dragged Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ to the bottom of Middle East and African carriers’ ranking in the 2019 on-time performance (OTP) review.
The update done by Cirium, a London-based airlines advisory and consultancy firm, rates global airlines through their on-time arrivals, departures, average delay in minutes per flight and those that operate within scheduled time.
The airline was ranked last among the 10 carriers in Middle East and Africa, a blow to the carrier that saw its losses double last year.
The rating saw Kenya’s national carrier come in 10th with a 72.25 per cent on time arrival of flights just below Addis Ababa-based Ethiopian Airlines at 74.22 per cent.
Qatar Airline was ranked top with 82.45 per cent on time arrival, followed by Dubai-headquartered Emirates Airlines at 81.02 per cent and troubled South African Airlines at 79.38 per cent, coming a close third in terms of punctuality.
KQ had an average of 47 minutes in delays for its over 54,061 flights it operated last year, a slight improvement of its 50 minutes in 2018. “Arriving on time at a destination is becoming increasingly important to millions of both leisure and business passengers around the world every day. Therefore, our on-time performance review 2019 is designed to inspire airlines and airports to continually innovate to improve their performance,” the report said.
Kenya Airways Director of Operations Capt Paul Njoroge attributed the poor show in flight performance to aircraft withdrawals as a result of collision mid last year and industrial action by the airlines unionised employees.
“We were then negatively affected by the withdrawal of two aircraft due to the unfortunate incident in the hangar.
This was then coupled by the Kenya Airlines Workers Union (KAWU) strike and pilot shortage in the second and third quarter of last year, which saw the on time performance drop to as low as 67 per cent in August 2019,” Capt Njoroge said, adding that this was way below the 81 per cent performance they had achieved by April of last year.
In February last year, two of the airline’s Embraer 190 aircraft collided in the hangar while undergoing maintenance which saw them withdrawn from service.
Three months later, the airline’s unionisable employees under KAWU went on strike, protesting against the proposed merger between the national carrier Kenya Airways and the airports regulator. This saw more than 24 of its flights cancelled, while more suffered incessant delays.