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The national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) has to date lost Sh348 million (about USD$4 million) in revenue as a result of the fire that engulfed Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Wednesday.
While making the revelation, Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni sought to assure the airline’s shareholders that the management was doing everything in its power to try and stop the bleeding and working towards clearing the backlog of international flights.
“Kenya Airways wishes to announce an enhanced schedule of international flights as we endeavour to reduce on the backlog of international passengers still stranded in Nairobi,” Kenya Airways Chief Operating Officer Mbuvi Ngunze said on Saturday.
And true to Naikuni’s word, the airline was operating at 35 percent of its normal capacity just a day following the blaze and was up to 70 percent a day later on resuming its domestic route schedule in full.
But even with the quick turn around, the fire could not have occurred at a worse time for Kenya Airways which posted a Sh7.8 billion loss in the financial year ending March.
The fire will also no doubt have a negative effect on the other carriers who include Nairobi on their itineraries and this will have a ripple effect on the tourism industry as a whole at a time Kenya records the highest number of tourist arrivals.
The Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie is however optimistic that the fire will not prove to be much of a blow to the aviation industry and the tourism industry as a whole and is optimistic their profit margins will not be dented but grow.
“We will hurt for a while because of flight delays and cancellations but I have absolutely no doubt that we will bounce back and that our tourism will prosper, know more vibrancy and soar to new heights. Indeed such is my faith that I am positive this high season will deliver more visitors than last year,” she said in an opinion piece to newsrooms.
And no doubt the travel industry hopes her optimism backed by government effort will be reflected on their balance sheets when they have to face their shareholders in a few months time.