National carrier Kenya Airways PLC (KQ) says the first half of 2021 continued to be severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, resulting in depressed half-year results.
During the period, the airline narrowed its pretax loss by 20 percent to Sh11.5 billion.
The airline’s total revenue during the period was reduced by 9 percent to Sh27,354 million, on account 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 percent of Africans having received the vaccine while in other markets high vaccination levels have allowed the progressive reopening of their economies.
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 travelers 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.
Though passenger revenue declined by 17 percent to Sh20,230 million, cargo revenues went up by 60 percent due to strong focus on freighter operations.
The Group says it 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.
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."
According to IATA, Q1 2021 results show that the start of the year was still very weak for the airline industry, as virus outbreaks paused air travel recovery […]