Kenya Airways, on Tuesday, announced that it had suffered a sh 36 billion loss as of December 2020, triple the amount lost in 2019.
The loss was the largest in aviation’s whole history, casting into doubt the airline’s turnaround project. According to the airline, the enormous losses suffered were largely down to the halting of operations in 2020 due to COVID-19.
The national carrier, partly owned by Air France KLM, said that revenues also fell by more than half. From over sh 128 billion in 2019, they dropped by 59 % to just sh 52 billion.
A Drop in passenger carriage
Airline CEO Allan Kilavuka also confirmed that the number of passengers that KQ carried in 2020 dropped to a meagre sh 1.8 million, from 5.2 million in 2019.
“The difference between COVID-19 and other crises we faced is that we were completely grounded,” Kilavuka said.
Meanwhile, KQ Chairman Michael Joseph termed 2020 as the ‘worst year’ for aviation but claimed that Kenya Airways ‘did well.’
The worst year for aviation
“2020 was the worst year for aviation. However, we did well and kept ongoing once the grounding of flights ceased,” Joseph said.
However, he predicted that KQ operations’ recovery would be painful and slow, not hitting pre-COVID-19 figures until 2024 at the earliest.
The national carrier has been struggling for years. Mismanagement is one of the reasons for the steady decline of ‘The Pride of Africa.’
The nationalization process, which will see the airport operations merged with those of the Kenya Airports Authority, is seen as a lifeline for the carrier.
Michael Joseph said that nationalization would give KQ strengths and ability to compete on a level field with the revered Middle East carriers.
“All our biggest competitors have a similar structure,” he said of nationalization.
However, the process is facing opposition. The LSK filed a petition to stop the process, stating it would provide avenues for misuses of public funds.