The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya Airways Granted Licence for Dreamliner

ALL is set for Kenya Airways' first Dreamliner delivery slated for March after the government approved use of the aircraft by the airline.

In a gazette notice issued on December 27, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has approved a variation of KQ's current air service licence to include aircraft type B787 on both international and domestic scheduled air service.

"Variation of the licence granted for the period of validity of current licence," said part of the gazette notice no.15699 signed by KCAA director general Hillary Kioko.

The national carrier had lodged an application for approval to fly the Dreamliner on November 1 last year.

KQ ordered for nine 787 Dreamliner planes from Boeing back in 2006 with the first delivery then expected to be in the last quarter of 2010 but that was not to be.

The delays have been caused by many factors mostly technical hitches touching on various components of the new generation aircraft mostly the battery, although this has since been resolved.

The Dreamliner plane which is said to use 20 per cent less fuel will according to the airline's plans replace its ageing 767 aircrafts as well as back KQ's route expansion and capacity enhancement project.

Fuel costs account for nearly half of the airline's direct expenses and is a major factor to the airline's profitability.

KQ posted a first half net profit of Sh384 million for the period ended September 2012 reversing the previous year's first half loss of Sh4.8 billion helped largely by lower fuel costs, more passengers and better cost management.

Direct operating costs were lower at a total of Sh37.2 billion from that recorded in first half 2011/2012 which was Sh39.8 billion. One of the major savings was made in fuel expenditure which was priced lower and use of new fuel efficient Embraer planes that replaced older Boeing aicrafts.

KQ also made Sh3.8 billion from its fuel hedge contracts.

Other than the Dreamliner, the airline is also expecting two new wide body 777-300 ER Boeing aircrafts before end of March 2014 as it gradually phases off its old fleet.

By end of this year, the airline plans to have an entire new fleet as part of its growth plans under project Mawingu, its ongoing 10-year business expansion strategy.

Ethiopia was the first airline in Africa to receive and operate the B787 Dreamliner plane.

Meanwhile, KQ has also received licence to launch and operate its low cost subsidiary Jambojet Limited.

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