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KQ’s New York Route to resume next month due to frequent flight cancellations

Kenya Airways has extended the resumption of direct flights to New York from Nairobi to November 29th.

In a statement Monday, the carrier attributed the decision to increased cancellation of flight bookings on the route.

“We regret to announce that due to increased cancellation of flights booking to New York City, we have pushed back the resumption of our service to this destination to 29th November,” reads KQ’s statement.

Earlier, KQ had announced that it would resume direct flights to New-York from Nairobi on October 29th, after a six-month freeze due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The airline had also announced that it would cut New York flights to one weekly when it resumes operations.

KQ was doing five flights weekly to New York before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world.

Kenya Airways had started direct flights to the US in October 2018, with a target of boosting its annual revenues by more than 10 percent in 2019 and 2020.

The New York Nairobi route was aimed at encouraging more business and tourist travel, with the US being one of Kenya’s biggest source of visitors.

Further over the weekend, Kenya Airways (KQ) Pilots represented by the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) also slammed the airline’s management over its nature in which the company is being run.

In a letter addressed to Kenya Airways Chief executive Allan Kilavuka and copied to a host of senior government officials including Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua, Cabinet Secretaries CS Ukur Yatani – Treasury and James Macharia – Transport, the pilots termed current internal decisions such as reduced flight operations, understaffing among others as ill-timed.

The pilots now say such decisions which has also seen the airline close its biggest sales office at Jomo Kenya International (JKIA) Terminal 1A because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, could hamper the airline’s ability to return to profitability.

“Despite growing concerns by members of the public, about the worrying customer experience, KQ has adopted a lethargic stance in addressing these complains. Kalpa is particularly concerned on this seemingly intentional by some sections in KQ management to sabotage the airline and starve off its revenue streams,” said the association’s Chief executive Capt. Muriithi Nyagah – who also questioned competence echelons of some senior management at the company.

“It is indeed a shame for the national carrier to constantly beg for funding from the government while the opportunities to increase our revenues are available. KQ management needs to be more aggressive in seeking and creating new opportunities,” said Capt. Nyagah in a statement on Saturday.

In July this year the pilots association also criticized the airline for going against the government guidance in the need to protect jobs at a time when the aviation industry was drawing closer to a rebound in activity along with the planned nationalization of the company.

KQ has so far laid off some 650 employees this year alone, mostly trainee pilots, trainee cabin crew, technician trainees and newly hired staff on probation, and plans to shed 590 more jobs.

The airline reported a gross loss of 12.98 billion, a 71 per cent further drop last year compared to Sh7.55 billion loss the previous year.

The firm attributed the loss to an increase in operating costs that grew by 12.4 per cent to Sh129.1 billion compared to Sh114.8 billion in 2018.

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