National carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) has reduced the number of its direct flights to new York, US, over low demand.
This comes barely two weeks since the flight was launched, and will take effect from November 2018 to March 2019. The management says that the decision was taken due to the effects of winter which reduces demand for flights to US.
“The winter schedule for all our flights took effect from October 2018 and will run until March 30, 2019. We cancel flights that are not commercially viable, so this is not unique to this route,” said an official as quoted by Business Daily.
Being told by senior govt officials and KQ executives that the airline is already considering downgrading the NYC flights from 7 a week to only 3. Out of the 234 in the inaugural flight, less than 100 paid for their tickets. Others were govt joyriders. #KQDirectFlight pic.twitter.com/YZVfl3tOft
— Robert ALAI, HSC (@RobertAlai) October 30, 2018
So far, 10 scheduled flights have already been cancelled in the month of November due to low bookings. It was reported that the maiden return flight from US had only 45 passengers on board, against the normal capacity of over 230 passengers.
The airliner says that the 10 cancelled flights were identified three weeks before the inaugural flight to US.
— Lone Star (@Kamaitha)
However, it is expected that KQ might not resume normal flight schedule until the start of summer in June next year.
The cash strapped airliner has been suffering losses in the past few years, with operational cost almost matching revenue incomes. At times, the operational cost is higher than the revenue income like the period between and including 2013 to 2015.
This year, KQ reported a Ksh4 billion half-year losses.
Analysts have questioned the KQ management ad they knew that launching a flight in October was going to coincide with Winter when few would want to visit the US with its extreme weather conditions.
As KQ was launching the flight, salaries of the airline employees were being delayed as the cash-strapped airline is struggling to meet its financial obligations which mostly stem from poor cashflow management. It seems like the presence of Michael Joseph and new CEO in the leadership is not changing much.
The inaugural #KQNBONYC Flight won’t benefit Kenya much as long as we don’t award domestic landing rights to international airlines based on reciprocity. You have Qatar and Rwandair landing in Mombasa but did they give KQ the same domestic access in their countries?
— Robert ALAI, HSC (@RobertAlai) October 28, 2018
As KQ struggle to make the NY route work, the airline is losing locally with Qatar, Ethiopian Airline, Emirates and Rwandair being given rights to key domestic landings like Mombasa. While there is nothing wrong with the three flying to Mombasa, it would help KQ that the Kenyan government give rights based on reciprocity so as the enable KQ also to grow.
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