Kenya Airways swings to first operating profit since 2017

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Kenya Airways swung to an operating profit of 10.53 billion shillings ($80.38 million) last year, it said on Tuesday.

One of Africa’s three biggest carriers, Kenya Airways slid into insolvency in 2018 after an expansion drive left it with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

Last year’s operating profit was the airline’s first since 2017, it said, buoyed by a 53% increase in revenue to 178.5 billion shillings, Reuters reported.

“It is an indication that we are well on our path to recovery,” CEO Allan Kilavuka told an investor briefing.

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The revenue growth was underpinned by a 35% increase in passenger numbers, he said, adding that it will increase flights on popular routes such as Nairobi to London and secure new planes to take advantage of that momentum in demand.

The airline expects to receive an additional cargo freighter soon and it will receive another Boeing 737-800 passenger jet by the third quarter of this year to boost capacity, Kilavuka said.

Revenue from the airline’s cargo business was down for the year, in line with the global trend, he said.

Kenya Airways posted a pretax loss, however, as a steep weakening of the Kenyan shilling led to loan revaluation losses.
The shilling has started to strengthen against the dollar, meaning the outlook for this year is more positive, Kilavuka said.

“The FX situation is improving … We do expect this will work in our favour this year,” he said, adding that it would help the company to attain bottom line profitability.