Kilavuka: Kenya Airways is without doubt one of the largest operators inside Africa. Final yr, like all different airways, we suffered a major drop in numbers. Earlier than 2020, we had been flying roughly 5 million passengers per yr, 2019 being the document yr. In 2020, which was the yr that we suffered the pandemic, it dropped to about 1.8 million. So a major drop and people numbers are mirrored in our income numbers and subsequently our losses.
We additionally used to fly to 53 locations the world over — that dropped to 41 however we hope to scale it again up a little bit bit extra. Inside Africa, we used to fly to over 40 locations. That once more has dropped to at present 36 locations. Some we have to reactivate and see how that grows going ahead.
How has the airline responded to the rising demand for air cargo?
Kilavuka: Till now cargo has been about 10% of our enterprise. We need to develop that to over 20% of our enterprise, to double it throughout the subsequent three to 5 years. And with the intention to try this, we have to improve capability.
So proper now we’re sitting on this planet’s first cargo transformed Dreamliner 787. This one now we have devoted to cargo — this and one other one like this. We’ve got at the very least 50 tons of cargo on this one “preighter” [a passenger plane converted to carry freight] that helps transport primarily horticulture merchandise to Europe, meat to the EU, crabs to China and so forth. After which in fact, to import sure gadgets from Europe and Asia to Africa.
So cargo is extraordinarily vital in our strategic framework due to the position it would play within the larger Kenya Airways enterprise endeavors. Why? As a result of initially, we expect this can be a good income stream for us. Secondly, it diversifies our portfolio a little bit bit extra, so it safeguards our enterprise. Thirdly, it helps companies inside Africa, which is what we’re about. We’re about sustainable growth inside Africa. So we need to play our half in serving to and supporting companies to export their merchandise.
In line with the African Airways Affiliation, home journey offered as much as 61.5% of passenger flights for African airways throughout the pandemic. How a lot of your focus is on boosting Africa and intra-Africa connectivity?
Kilavuka: 60% of our site visitors is inside Africa. And we intend to constantly develop that as a result of we’re predominantly an African airline and that is how we need to place ourselves, as a result of we imagine there’s numerous potential on the continent. So there are a number of phases that we are going to undertake. To start with, it is to reinstate our unique community. The ambition is to then develop into secondary cities, as a result of we fly to most major cities, to most capital cities. Now it is to take a look at gamers that can assist us to enter secondary cities that make sense for the enterprise.
Additionally, on the lookout for alternatives for “fifth freedom flights” [flying between two foreign countries] … in order that we will gather extra site visitors. This we will do both straight or via partnerships.
Except for cargo, how has the pandemic reshaped your small business mannequin?
Kilavuka: Covid-19 has fully modified the best way we have a look at issues. The client is demanding various things now. They’re extra involved about well being and hygiene, so we’re taking further measures to make them really feel comfy relating to that facet of the enterprise.
Secondly, they need a extra versatile reserving course of and that is what we have carried out as nicely. They need extra digital area and so forth and so forth. So actually, we’re wanting on the buyer extra and tailoring our product to match their wants.
There are additionally different income streams. We have launched a drone initiative. We’re working very laborious at it. We expect now we have a really robust worth proposition, particularly as a result of now we have numerous expertise. We’ve got over 44 years of expertise in manned plane — we need to switch that have from manned plane to unmanned plane and provide a really invaluable service to operators, not simply inside Kenya, however outdoors Kenya.
We need to do numerous surveillance, surveillance help, inspections and even gentle cargo deliveries. So we’re engaged on commercializing this unit. We expect that in 5 years’ time, it will likely be a good portion of our enterprise.