NAIROBI (Reuters) – When Sebastian Mikosz took over as CEO of loss-making Kenya Airways last June, he immediately shut its outlet in Nairobi’s downmarket Accra Road, which served thousands of small traders who fly to the Far East to buy cheap goods in bulk.
The move marked the beginning of an aggressive hunt for cost savings and premium passengers, after years of losses following a slump in tourism and large debts incurred to buy new aircraft.
Mikosz - Flag - Carrier - LOT - Polish
Polish native Mikosz, who helped turn around flag carrier LOT Polish Airlines as its chief executive, needs to stem those losses before it can begin to pay down $2 billion of debt restructured in November to stave off the airline’s collapse.
He told Reuters he plans to roll out a new economy plus class by the end of the year designed for business and wealthy leisure travelers, including growing numbers of American tourists and executives from dozens of Nairobi-based U.S. firms.
Planes - Seats - Capacity - Space - Reshape
Coming first to wide-bodied planes, it will mean new seats with the same capacity by using space between them. “We are working on a pretty big reshape of the onboard experience,” Mikosz said.
The airline also plans a direct route to the Indian Ocean luxury tourism island of Mauritius and the first direct flight from Nairobi to New York by any airline from October, a plan Mikosz said was known as the “$100 million project” for the revenue the daily flight is expected to bring in.
US - Route - Flights - Players - Emirates
The U.S. route will compete with indirect flights from established players such as Emirates [EMIRA.UL], British Airways and Ethiopian Airlines [ETHA.UL] and test Kenya Airways’ ability to reshape its image from an Africa-focused carrier.
“We still have to prove that we can produce an operating profit,” Mikosz said in an interview in his office overlooking airport service hangers. “That is the biggest challenge that...
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