KQ faces stiff competition as local flights resume

Domestic flights resume today

In Summary

•KQ resumes with two flights to Mombasa and one to Kisumu.

•Low budget carriers are offering cheaper tickets.

A KQ plane

Kenya Airways faces stiff competition from local budget carriers as domestic flights resume today.

KQ, as it is known by its international code has deployed three Embraers for  three flights daily.

Today, KQ flight number 602- Embraer 190- takes off from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) hub for Mombasa at 7am. The second flight, number 610, is at 1 pm.


For Kisumu, KQ flight number 654 leaves JKIA at 7.30 am.

"We look forward to serving you on board from July 15, on our domestic routes," it said on its Facebook page on Sunday.

 KQ which comes back with two destinations faces competition from Safarilink, Skyward Express and Fly540, all which are offering cheaper fares to Mombasa and Kisumu.

A KQ one-way ticket to Mombasa costs Sh14,456 but Safarilink offeres its customers Sh7,700 tickets for its Vipingo route, an alternative to Mombasa.

It is flying to Kisumu at an average Sh5,700 per ticket, way cheaper than KQ's  Sh12,897 tickets.

Skywards is selling its Mombasa (via Ukunda) tickets at Sh5,950, inquiries by the Star yesterday showed.

Fly540 Nairobi-Mombasa tickets are averaging Sh4,200.


KQ's sister company-Jambojet is offering as low as Sh4,500 with its highest price being  Sh5,40 to five local destinations.

The regional low-cost carrier will operate three daily flights to Mombasa, two to Kisumu, two to Eldoret, one to Malindi, and four weekly flights to Diani.

“The frequencies will be reviewed regularly to respond to the changes in demand across the markets,” management notes.

Transport CS James Macharia last Wednesday announced guidelines for the transport sector following the cessation of movement.

Airlines will be allowed to carry full capacity. Those flying at night will be allowed through curfew hours by use of tickets with arrivals using boarding pass incase they land during curfew hours.

The low key return is likely to deny KQ revenues as it traditionally(pre-Covid) operated nine flights daily for Mombasa and three for Kisumu, mainly using its  Embraer aircraft which have the capacity to carry 96 passengers.

With a Mombasa ticket gong for an average Sh14,456, the airline will make Sh2.7 million on return for each flight if fully booked.

With two flights, it will make an average Sh5.4 million on average revenues, a route that has potential to fetch up to Sh24 million a day on optimum operations.

The carrier which has been flying to 54 destinations, pre-Covid,recorded  loss in revenue from forward bookings of  $70 million (Sh7.5 billion) between January and April.

Average mothly losses since ceasing operations, on March 25,is estimated at Sh9.3 billion. 

While international airlines are scheming return-to-the-skies strategies, KQ is entangled in a war with its pilots over downsizing of its operations.

The airline has grounded a majority of its 36 aircraft, which includes nine Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 10 Boeing 737 aircraft, and 17 Embraers.

"We started feeling the effect in February after we stopped flying to China, then Italy and the rest followed,” CEO Allan Kilavuka told the Star in a recent interview.

More than182 pilots and 400 cabin crew are targeted for the sack, in a process that has raised questions, a time when the carrier is in the process of being nationalized.

The nationalisation process currently in Parliament is expected to create more jobs and stabilize the airline's operations.

The loss-making airline is to be managed under an Aviation Investment Corporation that also brings on board the Kenya Airport Authority.

While KQ management has blamed the impact of Covid-19 on its poor revenue streams, the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) has cited poor management dating more than five years ago, which has seen the carrier remain in losses year in-year out.

KALPA General Secretary and CEO Captain Murithi Nyagah has accused the airline’s management of 'playing dirty' in termination of contracts.

“KALPA will not sit down and watch as you unilaterally belittle and breach an existing recognition agreement when it comes to the terms and conditions of service of pilots in KQ,” Nyagah said in a letter dated July 6.

Pilots have expressed readiness to remain on unpaid leave until the airline stabilizes, a move that management has dismissed.

In his reply in a letter dated July 10, KQ chief executive Allan Allan Kilavuka said: “Our concern is on the survival of the Airline now and sustainability for the future as we resume operations in a highly unpredictable environment.”