Kenya’s foreign ministry yesterday lifted the remaining restrictions imposed on Kenya Airways at the start of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, at which time the airline was effectively banned from flying to West Africa with the exception of Nigeria.
In May this year, the flight ban was then lifted for Monrovia/Liberia but remained in place for Guinea and Sierra Leone. The overall cost for the airline is estimated to be in the region of up to 5 billion Kenya shillings in lost revenues with the loss of market share to other airlines which did not suffer similar bans added.
Kenya Airways, which will in a few weeks hold its Annual General Meeting during which the financial results of the 2014/15 financial year will be presented to the shareholders, will no doubt feel re-invigorated by the news. The resumption of flights to both cities is expected soon, eventually cranking up services to the previous 44 per week from Nairobi to West Africa and working on recapturing both point-to-point and transit traffic to destinations beyond Nairobi in the Gulf, India, and the Far East.
Combined with rising demand for seats from Kenya’s traditional core markets in Europe to Nairobi and the Kenyan coast, this latest development is seen as a crucial element in restoring profitability for Kenya’s national airline.
Kenya Airways was hit hard by a perfect storm of exceedingly harsh anti-travel advisories against the country AND the Ebola outbreak in West Africa with the resulting flight bans both eating deep into the revenues and eventually leading to a grounding of four B777-200s due to lack of enough traffic.