August 27, 2021: Though the passenger revenue recorded a decline of 17 percent to Kshs.20.23 billion, Kenya Airways' cargo revenues went up by 60 percent due to strong focus on freighter operations in H1 2021. The group has been able to uplift an increased 500 tonnes monthly, showing its cargo division’s outstanding agility in adapting its operations to provide air freight services in this new environment.

During the first half of 2021, operations continued to be severely impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, resulting in depressed half-year results. The airline however recorded improved performance compared to a similar period in the prior year.

The airline has carried 1,400 tonnes of PPE, pharmaceuticals and vaccines into Africa; 360 tonnes of garments, flowers, and tropical fish to the US; and from Asia to Africa 6,000 tonnes of electronic consumer, machinery and fashion goods. Additional capacity was created using its repurposed B787.

Kenya Airways group MD and CEO said, “Notwithstanding the current global crisis brought about by Covid-19 pandemic, we will continue to adopt an agile approach in responding to the current dynamic marketplace. Our focus is on business recovery and to continue contributing to the rebuilding of economies and communities impacted by the pandemic.”

The group’s total revenue during the period reduced by 9 percent to Kshs. 27.35 billion. The reduction is due to the cessation of domestic scheduled operations in the month of April 2021, as well as travel restrictions, and lockdowns due to a surge in virus cases in key domestic and international markets including UK, India, China, UAE, and the US.

Prior to the pandemic, the carrier flew to over 40 African destinations. Currently the airline operates in 40 international destinations and two domestic routes with significantly reduced frequencies of approximately 65 percent as compared to 2019. Covid-19 restrictions on travel by various states remain the biggest challenge. In addition, the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines in the African continent remains low; with less than two per cent of Africans having received the vaccine while in other markets high vaccination levels have allowed progressive reopening of their economies.

Kenya Airways board chairman, Michael Joseph, said, “During the period, the company’s main focus was and still is cash conservation. The company has exploited opportunities of raising much needed revenue through passenger charters and ramped up cargo operations. Other initiatives undertaken by management include partnerships with other airlines, lease rentals re-negotiations, payment plans with suppliers and partial deferment of staff salaries.”

The current upsurge coupled with the continent’s low vaccination rates has contributed to low passenger traffic from Africa to other markets like Europe who have issued or extend stringent travel restrictions on travellers from African countries in a measure to prevent the spread of the new Covid-19 variants. As a result, a total of 0.8 million passengers were uplifted during the first half of 2021, a 20 percent decline in comparison to a similar period in the previous year.

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