Kenya Airways eyes new routes with leased planes

(HornTrade) – Kenya Airways, part-owned by Air France-KLM, said on Wednesday it had taken delivery of two leased Embraer aircraft and would increase flights to key African cities as well as open up new routes.

The two planes, which Finnair Oyj said last month it was leasing to Kenya Airways for four years at a cost of around $20 million, bring the African carrier’s Embraer fleet to five planes.

“We expect them to go into commercial service after undergoing the necessary post-delivery modifications and configuration,” Chief Executive Titus Naikuni said in a statement.

The carrier, 26 percent-owned by Air France-KLM, plans to use the aircraft to boost its services to underserved African markets which are key sources of business for the airline.

“We now have triple daily flights to Kigali and Johannesburg, while Lagos, Accra, Bujumbura, Douala, Dubai, Addis, Freetown, Harare and Lusaka got additional flights. Other regional routes will follow … in the coming months,” Naikuni said.

At present Kenya Airways uses Embraer on domestic and short regional routes that also include Kisumu, Entebbe, Djibouti and Juba — launched on Wednesday.

The airline, which is listed on three east African bourses, now flies to 49 destinations, including 40 cities across Africa.

One of Africa’s largest carriers, it swung back into profit with a reported pretax profit of 2.67 billion shillings in the year to March 2010, from a loss of 5.66 billion shillings in the previous year.

Naikuni said last week that the airline would continue to acquire narrow bodied aircraft this year, singling out the Embraers and Boeing 737s as favourites.

Source: af.reuters.com

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