Kenya Airways has signed a deal for the purchase of nine 787 Dreamliners from Boeing Co. with an option for four more, the airline announced today.
Kenya Airways Chief Executive Titus Naikuni said six of the new aircraft will replace six of the company’s ageing fleet of Boeing 767’s, while the rest will be for the airline’s expansion plans and will be used on new routes.
The first of the aircraft will be delivered in the last quarter of 2013, he said.
In March 2006, Kenya Airways ordered six Dreamliners, and nine months later followed up with an order for another three. The first aircraft were originally scheduled to arrive last year, Flight International reports.
When Kenya Airways placed its initial order, the Dreamliner was supposed to enter service with its first customer, All Nippon Airways, in 2008. However, Boeing encountered numerous delays and a number of airlines cancelled orders. In fact, Kenya Airways considered buying A330s from Airbus instead.
Naikuni said last year that Boeing’s decision to delay delivery of nine Dreamliner planes, would slow down expansion for the airline. Most customers are experiencing delays of between two and three years to first delivery.
Kenya’s flag carrier said during its 2009 financial year review that the hold-up to the 787 was a “major challenge” for the airline.
“They (Boeing) have given us delivery dates that we are comfortable with. It is a super aircraft,” Naikuni told the media today.
Naikuni added that the rising oil price would force the company to increase it fares to cushion its bottom line. Fuel cost account for between 30-40 percent of the airline’s costs.
“It (oil prices) is impacting us quite a bit. We will have to increase our fares,” said Naikuni.