Kenya Airways loses $8 million due to China flight suspension

The suspension of flights to China for about a month has cost Kenya Airways $8 million in revenue, acting chief executive Allan Kilavuka has said, a loss suffered due to precaution against the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Several countries last month restricted travel to China amid the epidemic, with major airlines across the world cancelling flights to the Asian country. After initially saying it was monitoring the situation, KQ suspended flights to Guangzhou, joining regional counterparts RwandaAir and Air Tanzania, which postponed its maiden flight scheduled for February due to the viral outbreak.

The losses on the thrice-a-week Nairobi-Guangzhou route include foregone passenger and cargo revenue. China is a key cargo origin and the main feeder to the regional freighters, and the suspension of flights since the end of January has dealt a big blow to the airline’s revenues, Kilavuka told The EastAfrican .

“We are looking at lost revenue of about $8 million, both passenger and cargo. However, various initiatives are in place to increase passenger and cargo revenues on other routes to minimize this impact,” said Kilavuka.

Over the past month, the loss-making carrier’s stock has fallen by 1.29 percent on the local stock exchange to trade as low as $0.022 per share as of last Thursday. The airline widened its losses for the year 2018 to $75 million from $64 million in 2017 and will soon be delisted from the Nairobi Securities Exchange after parliament approved its takeover by the State.

As a way of maintaining operational efficiency and limiting disruption to passengers after the flight suspension, KQ reportedly changed the timing of the Bangkok flight from a midnight departure to early morning and from February 11 switched the aircraft that operated the route to China, to Dubai.

“Due to our additional precautionary measures, we have faced some delays in operations. We are working closely with the port health teams from the Ministry of Health as guided by the World Health Organisation who continue to monitor and advise on the next steps to take with regards to the coronavirus,” the executive said.

The coronavirus meanwhile has so far infected more than 78,000 people globally, with nearly 2,500 deaths. On Monday, concerns were raised that the virus outbreak will grow into a pandemic with disruptive and deadly consequences for countries around the world, following sharp rises in infections outside China – South Korea, Italy, and Iran.

The surge of infections led to a plunge in Asian […]

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