msafiri’s Editor-at-large Jackson Biko stole five minutes with Kenya Airways’ Chief Operating Officer Mbuvi Ngunze to talk about the imminent arrival of the Dreamliners
What is the strategic picture for Kenya?
Well, we are going into a major renewal process of our fleets. Last year we saw some significant developments in this regard, with about 10 Embraers being delivered. There was the first delivery of the Boeing 777-300ER in October 2013, with two more expected by the middle of 2014. We expect the Dreamliner (787) to arrive in March 2014. We have ordered nine of these planes and we are expecting them from March this year.
How is this significant for the business?
This renewal allows the airline and its clients to enjoy the latest technology, efficiency in fuel consumption and other vital aeronautic advantages. This additionally means that our customers are exposed to the best comfort during flights. This new expansion is part of our Mawingu Plan and allows us to reach out to key destinations such as India and China and also consolidate Africa.
So what does this mean for Kenya Airways from a purely strategic point of view?
Well, competition is not stagnant. This renewal process allows us to be on top of the competition by enabling us to provide improved service and capability.
How long has the process for these new acquisitions taken?
Generally aircraft acquisition is a slow process that takes about four years. It starts when we pose a question such as: What network do we want to fly? Is it viable? Why? Then we look at the various aircraft that have the capability to fly this route. After this we go into the market to look for this aircraft, where many elements of the aircraft are scrutinised. This process takes a long time, for instance the seats of the 777 were delivered in October, a year after the seats were selected.
What are the key benefits of the Dreamliners?
The airframe life is much longer, which means it’s durable. There is better passenger comfort. The planes are pressurised at an equivalence of 6000ft – such that when it flies to heights like 35,000ft the jetlag caused by such heights is greatly reduced. It’s also extremely fuel-efficient, cutting consumption by a good 15 to 20 per cent. The range of the aircraft is enhanced; it can fly from Nairobi to Beijing nonstop. Which is great for our customers. Also because of its design, the maintenance intervals are longer.