Kenya Airways receives tenth Embraer amidst expansion plans


Kenya Airways has added a tenth Embraer regional aircraft to its expanding fleet. The arrival of the Embraer 190 fulfils a contract for three of the type from Air Lease Corporation, but the airline has another ten Embraer 190s on order from Brazil.

According to Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni, increasing the number of Embraer aircraft in Kenya Airways’ fleet will help the airline consolidate its presence on the continent, where it flies to 45 destinations.
“With a four-hour flight range, Embraer is a versatile aircraft that we have identified as suitable for our plans to consolidate our presence in the African routes. It has indeed proved very valuable in supporting our ongoing growth plans for Africa,” explained Naikuni.

Registered as 5Y-KYT, the new aircraft has a capacity of 96 passengers, 12 business class and 84 economy. The aircraft arrived in Kenya late last month. Currently, Kenya Airways uses Embraer aircraft on domestic and short regional routes including Kisumu, Entebbe, Kigali, Bujumbura, Addis Ababa, Djibouti, Maputo, Gaborone, and Nampula. The airline plans to open two new destinations to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Eldoret in Kenya in July. Kenya Airways also plans to open a new route to Beirut by the end of the year.

In September last year Kenya Airways signed a contract for ten Embraer 190s with options for a further 16 regional jets. Under the terms of the agreement, the first E190s will be delivered in the third quarter of this year, with deliveries wrapping up in 2013.

The deal makes provision for 16 further regional jets, which could be either more Embrear 190s or other E-Jet family models.

The new aircraft from Brazil will help counter major delays by Boeing that have impaired Kenya Airways’ expansion plans.

Kenya Airways is leasing two E190s from US-based leasing company Jetscape, for a period of eight years. Financing was provided by the Brazilian export credit bank, BNDES, under Jetscape’s existing financing facility.

In addition to the five E190s, the airline operates five E170 Long Range jets. “The combination of the E170 and E190 in our network will offer greater flexibility in right-sizing the aircraft to meet route demand, using the same crew and ensuring consistent, high comfort for our passengers,” Naikuni said last year.

Ranked as one of Africa’s largest airlines alongside Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways, Kenya Airways fared better than its rivals during the global financial crisis, thanks to its strategy of serving as a hub for travellers to and out of Africa.

Kenya Airways plans to double its fleet in the next five years as part of a 10-year plan aimed at extending its network to every African nation. The airline will launch services to North and South America and Australia by 2017. In addition, it plans to launch six new routes into India, three elsewhere in Asia and seven new routes into China. The carrier will expand its route network to 91 destinations within five years and 115 destinations in ten years, up from 56 (45 in Africa).

Its passenger aircraft fleet will triple to 107 aircraft – by 2021 the Boeing 787 will be the airline’s workhorse, with 32 being added to the fleet. At the moment it has nine Dreamliners on order, as well as four options. In addition, Kenya Airways plans to fly 29 NextGen 737s and 31 Embraer 190s, which will be used on minor African routes. These ambitious plans require around US$3.7 billion worth of financing over the next five years.

Apart from passenger operations, Kenya Airways will expand its cargo operations. It will take on a second 747 freighter in 2012/2013 and is planning to operate seven 777-200LR freighters by 2020/2021 and five 737-400 freighters. Earlier this year it joined forces with KLM to offer a twice weekly 747-400F flight to China, marking its entry into the dedicated freighter market segment.