Kenya Airways launches largest aircraft & starts Dreamliner countdown
“Masai Mara” is the name of Kenya Airways’ (KQ) first B777-300ER, a 400-seat aircraft offering 372 seats in an enhanced economy class and 28 seats in a classic layout with state-of-the-art, flat-bed seats in the business class cabin. The aircraft offers a 3x3x3 configuration in economy class, providing distinctly more space than other airlines do with the more common 3x4x3 cabin layout. This will give passengers flying with Kenya Airways on this aircraft those much-coveted extra inches of space to stretch out on long-haul flights to and from Guangzhou in China, to where this B777 will start operating from next week.
The greatest innovation on the aircraft though is the availability of a wireless network which passengers can access at a cost and which comes to life at cruise levels above 10,000 feet, keeping travelers connected while in flight, able to send and receive emails, and post pictures and comments on Twitter and Facebook.
With the 3x3x3 layout, the cabin gives the feeling of much more space while the state-of-the-art entertainment system allows passengers individual access to a multitude of films, news, sports, and series. Each seat has a USB charging terminal, as well as unde-seat power sockets to keep laptops and phones charged up.
The new aircraft, registration 5Y-KZZ, is the 45th in the Kenya Airways fleet and was officially launched by none other than President Uhuru Kenyatta in the presence of his Deputy President William Ruto, members of his cabinet, the entire Kenya Airways Board of Directors, and the airline’s top management. In addition, a broad selection of invited guests attended the function, comprised of members of diplomatic missions, captains of industry, and leading members from the business community in Kenya and the wider East Africa, as well as special invitees from a cross-section of Kenya’s civil society.
Dr. Titus Naikuni, the airline’s CEO, confirmed to this correspondent that the fleet will grow by one more aircraft this year, as over the space of the next two weeks another Embraer E190 will arrive, pushing the overall number of aircraft operated by KQ to 46.
Starting from March next year, Kenya Airways will receive their first Dreamliner B787, before over the course of 2014, another 5 such aircraft will join the fleet, besides two more B777-300ER and 3 B737-800NG featuring Boeing’s new “sky interior.” Dr. Naikuni also confirmed that as many as 4 of the presently used B 767s will leave the fleet as soon as the new Dreamliners come on line in order to capitalize on the fuel savings the newer Boeings will generate, thought to be over 20 percent less consumption compared to the aged B767s.
During the launch ceremony it was also confirmed by Transport Cabinet Secretary Kamau, answering a direct question from President Kenyatta, that the new “Project Greenfield” groundbreaking will still take place this year with mainstream construction taking off in very early 2014. This meets a key demand made by Kenya Airways, to improve and expand airport infrastructure to cater to their planned fleet increase and the opening of new destinations, as more aircraft arrive under their “Plan Mawingo” – their strategy paper covering the period up to 2022.
A temporary terminal, capable of handling up to 2.5 million passengers a year, will also be constructed early in 2014 and will be ready within weeks of being assembled at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to ease the pressure on the present facilities until the new Terminal 4 is completed.
With the delivery of this new aircraft, Kenya Airways has entered a decisive phase in their fleet renewal and expansion which positive economic developments of the world economy anticipated will also see the carrier return to profitability in the next financial year.