Naikuni admits that KQ was a casualty of the European economic crisis and this did no good to the fuel prices which rose steeply. “As an airline, we are continually investing in technology, processes and people to ensure that we stay ahead of the game and continue being the ‘Pride of Africa’ that we have always been,” says Naikuni.
How is this to be done? The future of airlines is through partnerships and alliances, reveals Naikuni. Apart from the continued investment in technology, processes and people, he adds that KQ is a member of Sky Team Alliance; a partnership that has brought about a lot of positives and synergies. Kenya Airways is also signing codeshare agreements with different partners. Together, these factors combined, will ensure that the airline stays ahead of the game and continues being the ‘Pride of Africa’ that it has always been. With the global economy on a rebound, Naikuni is optimistic that this will translate into moderately better times for the industry in 2013.
The Fastest Growing Airline in Africa
Kenya Airways has been rated as one of the fastest growing airlines in Africa, thanks to the deliberate and collective effort and strategy championed by the Kenya Airways Board and senior management. “We are in the process of implementing Project Mawingu, a 10-year strategy that aims at growing our fleet to 119 aircraft and route network to over 115 destinations by 2021,” Naikuni ponders over a brighter future. Looking further ahead Naikuni says as an international operator, they have identified the lucrative trade that comes from business travellers. “They are becoming even more discerning and the onus is on the airlines to continuously improve their services, in order to keep this category of passengers. Business travellers need more convenience and short process while travelling.
“We have taken cognisance of this and are working on enhancing our communication and relooking at our processes to ensure that the customer gets more value by flying with us,” notes a man destined to take to the skies with pride. Interestingly, KQ’s business travelers make up about 5% of the total passenger volume but contribute 25% to the airline’s overall revenue! Kenya Airways offers East African passengers more choice with Premier World (business class) on 72-seater Embraer aeroplanes. KQ boasts of three of these aircrafts within its fleet flying to Mombasa, Entebbe, Addis Abba and Dar es Salaam. The on-board service is world-renowned and the lie-flat business class seat on the wide-bodied plane is consistently voted among the world’s top 10.
Happy Employees Make Happy Customers
Safety, Customer First and Integrity are KQ’s core values. “We are committed to upholding the highest safety standards, satisfying our customers and continually improving the quality of our products and services. It is our pursuit of these values that has driven us to the top of the game in the continent,” Naikuni confidently states. Customer satisfaction is closely linked to employee gratification. KQ realises the importance of its most valuable asset: its human resources. “Part of our mission is to ensure employee satisfaction. A key focus of our human resources department has been driving employee engagement in order to ensure delivery on the company strategy. “Key to this is employee capability building programmes that are achieved through robust training solutions that have helped drive both technical and leadership skills across the business,” says Naikuni.
A Carrier of Choice into Africa
KQ’s vision is to fly out of all African cities, thereby opening up the continent to the world. “Kenya Airways will strengthen its position as a preferred carrier of choice when flying into the continent,” says Naikuni. At the moment, the ‘Pride of Africa’ flies to just over 50 destinations; 39 of which are in Africa. For the year ended March 2012, domestic routes alone contributed 20% of the revenue. Naikuni reveals that within the next five years, KQ has plans to double its fleet to 68. Within 10 years, it aims to have 107 passenger fleet and 12 freighter aircraft. With the crisis in Europe, Naikuni says Africa is the most lucrative market at the moment. “According to our latest operating statistics for Q2 of 2012, Africa continued to grow despite a slump in the European market,” Naikuni reveals.
He adds: “Africa is growing; going forward, and has a lot of promise. But the challenge is turning its growth into a profit for the industry. The entry of airlines into the African market is the testimony to the promise that it holds”. KQ travellers will be excited to know that the airline will take delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the first quarter of 2014. “The Dreamliners will replace the (Boeing) 767s,” reveals Naikuni. He adds that the new aircraft (787s) will also be used for capacity expansion on long haul routes “though the opening up of more destinations to the Middle East, the Americas and increased frequencies to already existing routes in Europe and Asia”.
In line with Kenya Vision 2030, there are massive infrastructure developments on all Kenyan fronts. Airport infrastructure is being improved, a move which will greatly benefit KQ in their service offering. “The existing facilities in most of the African destinations, to which we fly, require modernisation. In some instances we have had to provide our own facilities in foreign airports,” he says. Naikuni cites the case of Kisangani Airport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where KQ had to provide its own fire trucks as the airfield had none. Massive upgrades to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport will significantly increase the already superb service offered by Kenya Airways.
In a global village, KQ realises that it is a pivotal player in its country’s tourism sector and to the world at large. The airline is stepping up to the fore to form alliances and partnerships with other players; a trend which is gaining popularity globally. These partnerships, such as those in the Sky Team Alliance, enable seamless travel beyond the routes that they currently serve. Kenya Airways has the largest network of destinations. “This means we offer seamless connections which makes us a competitive airline for the region and the African market as a whole,” notes Naikuni. Coming from a man who leads the ‘Pride of Africa’ into dizzy heights; need more be said about why KQ should be the preferred airline in East Africa and Africa?
Did You Know?
Kenya Airways is called KQ because it is its assigned airline code by IATA
Kenya Airways is the first African Airline to be awarded the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) programme twice
The airline’s 10-year strategy aims at growing KQ’s fleet to 119 aircraft and route network to over 115 destinations by 2021
Business class passengers make up five per cent of KQ’ clientele but rake in 25% revenue
Domestic routes alone contributed 20% revenue for the year ended March 2012
Safety, Customer First and Integrity are KQ’s core values which enable the airline to stay ahead of the pack
The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft will be delivered to KQ in the first quarter of 2014
The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is undergoing massive upgrades which will significantly increase the already superb service offered by Kenya Airways.
KQ: Offering Seamless Connections
Kenya Airways has earned and deserves the distinction to be called the ‘Pride of Africa’. Operating one of the most modern fleet from one of the continent’s most lucrative economies, KQ, as it is affectionately known to its more than three million international passengers, is an airline whose 39 aircraft fly to over 50 destinations in Africa, Europe, Middle East, Far East and Indian Ocean Islands.
Dr Titus Naikuni, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Kenya Airways is confident about the airline’s ability to live up to its tagline as “we provide a world-class service that is unmatched in Africa.” “Kenya Airways upholds high safety standards,” he says. “It is the first African airline to have been awarded the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) programme twice!” he enthuses. Such recognition is a result of a myriad of factors that can best be described as the pursuit of excellence.
Surviving in Turbulent Times
The airline industry in Africa is one that is fraught with many challenges with some like Air Zimbabwe on the verge of being grounded and Nigerian airlines reported to need mergers if they are to keep operational. But through all this, KQ has held its own and kept its head high above in the stormy skies.
by Andrew Ngozo