LOSSES

KQ share price drops as airline posts worst results

Yesterday, the airline reported a net loss of Sh36.2 billion for the year ended December 31

In Summary
  • The loss per share rose to Sh6.22 in the financial year ended December 31, 2020, compared to a loss of Sh2.23 the previous year.
  • The continued loss is likely to further lower returns for investors who are looking forward to cashing in on the airline's planned nationalisation. 
KQ plane departs from JKIA.
KQ plane departs from JKIA.
Image: FILE

Investors who bought Kenya Airways shares at an offer price of Sh11.25 in 1996 had incurred a loss of Sh7.42 by Tuesday, even as the firm continues to sink in losses. 

Yesterday, investors at the Nairobi Securities Exchange reacted angrily at the firm's worst performance in history, a move that saw the share price drop by 40 cents to trade at Sh3.43 compared to Sh3.83 Monday.   

The loss per share rose to Sh6.22 in the financial year ended December 31, 2020, compared to a loss of Sh2.23 the previous year. 

The continued loss is likely to further lower returns for investors who are looking forward to cashing in on the airline's planned nationalisation. 

A proposed law before Parliament seeking to consolidate the aviation assets so as to effectively compete in the international market is seen as the best avenue to return it to profitability. 

The National Aviation Management Bill, 2020 seeks to create the Kenya Aviation Corporation which would have  the Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Airways and Aviation Investment Corporation.

The firm’s net loss for the year ended December 31, 2020, almost tripled to Sh36.2 billion compared to Sh12.9 billion the previous year on Covid-19 disruption.

The comprehensive loss however rose to Sh46.2 billion from Sh8.6 billion in 2019. 

The airline's chief executive Allan Kilavuka said passenger numbers dropped significantly during the year under review to 1.8 million compared to from 5.2 million in 2019.

This saw total turnover shrink by 58.8 per cent to Sh52 billion.

“It has been a tough year where we have faced unprecedented challenges. The situation continues to be difficult even as we gradually resume our operations, mainly due to the depressed demand for air travel, with recovery to 2019 levels expected to take up to four years,’’ Kilavuka said.

This was greatly contributed by the shutdown of the scheduled network operations from April-August 2020 following the government directive to suspend all international and domestic air travels to contain the spread of the Covid-19. 

Known internationally as KQ, the national carrier's gross profit tripled to Sh36.6 billion compared to Sh12.9 billion in 2019 in a global trend that saw the world aviation sector lose a whopping $14 billion (almost Sh15 trillion) in revenue.

“The global economic and geopolitical context remains uncertain due to the pandemic. Many airlines have grounded their aircraft while others have instituted other drastic measures to survive,'' KQ chair Michael Joseph said.

The firm saw a decline of 39 per cent in total operating costs, mainly driven by the reduced operations for the year.

Of the total operating costs, direct operating costs declined by 62 per cent whereas fixed costs declined by 3.1 per cent.

Based on the above revenue and cost dynamics, KQ recorded an operating loss margin of 51 per cent representing 50 points below the same period last year. 

Early this month, the National Treasury hinted at possible new debt restructuring to keep the ailing national carrier afloat. 

It further revealed that it had already injected Sh10 billion into the airline to cushion it from the financial pitfalls caused by Covid-19 disruption.

Last August, the airline said it projects to incur a Covid-19 loss of up to Sh70 billion. 

In 2017, the government and local lenders came to the rescue of KQ in a $2 billion over (Sh200 billion) debt-for-equity swap to boost the airline's books.