Kenya Airways took delivery of a new Boeing 767-300ER aircraft Monday morning direct from the Boeing plant in Seattle, USA.
The new aircraft arrives at a time when the airline is expanding routes and capacity.
Despite the general downturn in the Kenyan economy and political and economic problems impacting on operations in Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire, made $40m in pre-tax profit in 1999/2000.
Kenya Airways, part-owned by Dutch giant KLM, has been flexing its muscles regionally through the signing of code-share agreements with a number of smaller national airlines, including those of Malawi, Botswana and Tanzania.
The choice of Boeing 767 aircraft for wide body fleet renewal is a blow to European Airbus Industrie, whose Airbus A310-300 has been Kenya Airways’ flagship wide-body aircraft for almost fifteen years.
The arrival today of the Boeing 767-300ER is the first milestone in a wide-body fleet renewal exercise that will replace the ageing Airbus A310-300 fleet with more fuel efficient and longer range aircraft.
Five Airbus A310s have been the carrier’s workhorses on longer routes since 1986. One of them crashed into the Atlantic shortly after takeoff from Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, in January 2000. The airline’s carefully crafted image and safety record took a beating following the crash. So far, investigators have not released any clues as to what caused flight KQ-431 to plunge into the Atlantic shortly after takeoff.
The choice is a coup for Boeing in a hyper-competitve market. Kenya Airways is choosing the US manufacturer over Airbus for both single aisle and wide body fleet replacement.
KQ, the two-letter airline code Kenya Airways flies by, has placed orders for three 767-300ERs. A former Emirates plane will be the only remaining Airbus A310 in the fleet.
The aircraft are being completely custom-built to Kenya Airways specifications, and have “777-style” interiors, the airline says, offering "enhanced levels of comfort and spaciousness."
The Boeing 767-300ER can seat 269 passengers in two classes or 218 in three classes and has a range capability of 11,320 kilometres. The carrier has specified engines similar to those already used on three of the existing Airbus A310s, thereby easing the transition for maintenance personnel. The flight deck incorporates all-digital “glass cockpit” concepts whereby most navigation and systems information is presented via video displays instead of conventional gauge-type instruments.
Photo © George Polfliet