Kenya Airways takes delivery of first Dreamliner

Dreamliner - Kenya AirwaysKenya Airways will take delivery of nine Dreamliner 787s by July 2015. (Image source: Boeing)Kenya Airways has acquired the first of the nine Dreamliner 787 jets it expects to receive from Boeing by July 2015

Under the Mawingu Project, Kenya Airways (KQ) has embarked on a 10-year fleet expansion plan, increasing its capacity and boosting its air traffic market share in Africa.

"The next Dreamliner delivery shall be in July, then August, September and the final one for this year in October when we will take a break until next year," observed KQ chief executive officer Titus Naikuni.

Naikuni observed that officials from the company had visited other operators with the Dreamliner and assured passengers of 98 per cent safety levels.

Officials note that Dreamliner jets have more cargo space and have a greater fuel efficiency – achieved by increased use of lighter plastic materials in the place of metals.

The 787-8 models use 20 per cent less fuel than traditional aircraft and have the capacity to carry between 210 and 250 passengers on routes of between 14,200km and 15,200km, according to KQ officials.

"The Dreamliner is both environmentally friendly and economical, and we embrace the benefits of its design," said Naikuni.

The jet's first assignment will be the Nairobi-Paris route as the airline expands its European destinations currently served by aging Boeing 767s.

Over the next 10 years the national carrier intends to increase its fleet from the current 44 to 119 and its network coverage from 58 to 115 routes.

The Far East appears to be the favourite destinations for expansion, with plans to launch seven new routes to China, six to the Indian sub-continent and three across northern and south-east Asia.

The fleet expansion will aim to take advantage of the ongoing construction of a second runway at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Upon its completion in 2017, the new Greenfield Terminal will increase the passenger capacity from the 6.5 million to 20 million.

With annual passenger growth at 12 per cent, it has been estimated that by 2020 passenger numbers will reach to 17.1 million and grow to 35.3 million by 2030.

Officials from the Kenya Airport Authority acknowledged that terminal four would be operational by July 2014 with a new arrival terminal ready by the end of 2015.

Mwangi Mumero

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