With the current lockdowns of world’s airspace due to the Coronavirus pandemic, most airlines are grounded and only shuttling cargo in the forms of highly needed medical equipment and supplies. But these same airlines have loans that they are servicing and one will wonder how they will afford to pay such loans without generating income as most of their fleet is locked up at the hangar. Well, most of the airlines will, if they haven’t yet, declare bankruptcy and fold.
Unfortunately, one of these airlines is going to be Kenya Airways. The Kenya national carrier has been struggling financially for a very long time. In August 2019, there was an article in Reuters in which it was reported that the national flag carrier was in neck-deep debt and was struggling to pay its creditors. This led to the shareholders’ attempt to re-nationalize the company in order to save it from the verge of collapse. But the struggles will even worsen due to the scourge of Coronavirus pandemic around the world.
According to Onemileatatime, a blog that keep serves the airline industry, Kenya Airways has attempted to seek government bail out to shield the struggling company from the effect of COVID-19 that has plagued the travel industry. But since the government of Kenya itself is struggling for funds to combat the spread of the deadly virus, a bailout if very unlikely to come due to the shortage of funds. Kenya Airways lost at least US$8 million from a suspension of routes between Nairobi and China alone in February. Now that all routes worldwide are suspended, one wonders the scale of the loss in which KQ is going through, and whether the company will be able to survive this time round.
According to Bloomberg, it costs Kenya Airways about US$ 5 million to manage the grounded planes and pay their workforce like maintenance engineers and ground staff at a reduced salary. Kenya Airways had projected a profitable year in which the company was forecasting a possibility of expanding its routes to more profitable routes around the world including Australia and Brazil. Currently, Kenya Airways only fly most of the routes to within Africa, Europe, Asia and a single direct route to New York in the United States. The airline applied and was granted the lucrative U.S. route in 2017 after extensive lobbying between the Kenyan government and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States. The FAA is notorious for strictly forbidding airlines from overflying the U.S. airspace if such airlines have questionable safety standards and since most Africans airlines do not qualify with FAA stringent requirement, only a handful airlines from Africa enter, overfly or exit a U.S Airspace or any of the overseas American territories including U.S. Virgin Island, Puerto Rico and American Samoa. In fact, upon being granted flight permissions to New York City by the FAA, Kenya Airways became only the fourth African Airlines permitted to fly into a U.S. controlled airspace. Other handful airlines with overflight rights to the United States includes Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Air Maroc of Morocco and Egypt Air.
Kenya Airways Pilot Dies After Trip to New York City.
On April 1st, 2020, Captain Kimuyu Kabati (63-years old) passed on due to the complications brought about by the novel Coronavirus infection he contracted after flying a rescue flight to New York City. He was buried in his rural home in Maliku village within Kitui County. Captain Kabati was flying a rescue trip for Kenyan citizens from the United States to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport when he contracted Covid 19 disease. It is not well know whether his family was duly compensated for the avoidable loss because New York City was already in lockdown when the trip was carried out. At the time, New York City as the epicenter of the Coronavirus in the United States had more than 38,000 cases with about 1,000 deaths. On condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak about the matter, Kenya Airways officials divulged that Captain Kabati had to operate the Kenya Airways evacuation flight from New York under very strict conditions including to depart before end of day on March 23rd and be in Nairobi by March 25, 2020.
Other African Airlines Going Bankrupt due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Other African Airlines are negatively affected by the economic impacts of Coronavirus pandemic. On Sunday April 26, 2020, South African Airways fired all of their employees as the company was unable to pay their salaries due to mounting losses. The company offered severance package to all of its nearly 5,000 employees after the company executives determined that a turn around was unlikely. It has been reported that the company last made a profit nine years ago.
Air Mauritius is another African Airline going into bankruptcy due to the disruptions of Coronavirus in the airline industry. Other world airlines included Virgin Australia and many many more.