National carrier Kenya Airways was on Tuesday August 4 forced to slash its prices after a Twitter user named @katiejoehardy raised complains about the high ticket prices on offer.
Katie on Monday August 3 took to Twitter to express her profound disbelief after she discovered while booking a flight to Nairobi that the airline’s economy class charged the same as the business class of UK carrier British Airways.
“Kenya Airways economy is the same price as British Airways business class. What is this?” she wrote.
Her post ignited a plethora of social media outcries with users taking to her comments and quoted replies to share their sentiments.
“Kenya needs to review its KQ travel costs. Tourism(especially local) can grow exponentially if our hotel accommodation costs are reviewed.” commented Mark Senteu on Twitter.
“Patriotism my foot. From Dubai Emirates is cheaper than Kenya Airways” @jasminecmary971 weighed in.
“It’s logical. More people are flying out of Kenya as Africa seems to be the next epicenter so flying in will be cheaper all factors kept constant. Also, your browser history could be affecting the prices. You show interest, they hike/lower prices so you buy before prices go higher.” advised @theone_emmanuel
After the uproar Kenya Airways was forced to review its prices, slashing them from £1,527 (Ksh215,145.93) down to £481(Ksh67,770.26) on some days.
“KQ now have a flight every few days that is the same price as BA economy. Stop accepting mediocrity. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.” Katie signed off.
International flights into and out of Kenya resumed on August 1 following their four month suspension amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the aviation industry is still facing more turbulence. Globally, the number of grounded planes has fallen to around a third of the total. And those flying are operating way below capacity, and low profitability due to social distancing.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts that airlines could post a -20.1 per cent profit margin this year, losing Sh8.5 trillion ($84.3 billion). It reckons that the passenger numbers will fall 55 per cent.
IATA is projecting that the industry will not recover to 2019 levels until 2024, a year later than previously forecast.
In focus, as foreign travel resumed, is Kenya Airways, whose troubles have been deepened by the coronavirus. The airline was struggling long before the COVID-19 outbreak, posting 2019 losses of almost Ksh13 billion.
The loss-making national carrier is estimated to have lost Sh10 billion during the pandemic with Chief Executive Allan Kilavuka projecting a cumulative loss of Sh40 billion this financial year.
In July, KQ revealed it would lay off workers, reduce its network and offload some assets due to the pandemic.
During the month, the airline hopes to experience a gradual increase in the network with flights to Paris, Mumbai and Amsterdam. In Africa, KQ will operate flights to several cities including Accra, Freetown, Harare, Kilimanjaro, Lagos, Monrovia and Zanzibar.
The national carrier disclosed that resumption of services to other destinations will be based on demand and other factors. It, however, plans to start flights to the US, China and Thailand from October 2020.
Kilavuka said so far the company had laid off some 650 people, mostly trainee pilots, trainee cabin crew, technician trainees and newly hired staff on probation. Qatar Airways, Emirates, Air France, KLM and British Airways also resumed flights to and from Nairobi last Saturday.