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Kenya Airways posts worst-ever loss

Kenya‘s troubled national carrier, Kenya Airways, said on Monday that its losses for last year more than doubled to $290 million, the worst results it has posted in its history.

The airline, whose slogan is “The Pride of Africa”, has been running losses for years, despite the government pumping in millions of dollars to keep it afloat.

Full-year losses for the period ended December 2022 were 38.3 billion Kenyan shillings ($290 million), up from $120 million a year earlier, the carrier said, blaming high fuel costs and a weakening Kenyan shilling.

“The Group recorded a loss before tax of Ksh 38.3 billion compared to Ksh 16 billion reported in the prior year,” the airline’s chairman Michael Joseph said in a commentary announcing the results.

“If you remove the impact of the forex losses and the abnormal fuel cost increase at 160 percent, we would have made an operating profit,” the airline’s CEO Allan Kilavuka said on Twitter.

It is the 10th consecutive year of losses for the carrier, which last posted a profit in 2012.

Revenue increased by 66 percent but was still five percent below pre-pandemic levels.

Passenger traffic meanwhile stood at 3.7 million, a 68 percent increase compared to 2021 but still lower than in 2019. Cargo business increased by 3.5 percent.

Trading in the airline’s shares remain suspended as it battles to return to profitability.

The shares were first suspended in 2020 as lawmakers were considering a plan — since dropped — for the state to take full ownership of the carrier.

Under the plan to nationalise the carrier, it would have been exempt from paying taxes on engines, maintenance and fuel.

Kenya Airways’ woes were exacerbated in November last year when pilots staged a days-long strike that led to hundreds of flight cancellations and thousands of passengers stranded.

The Kenyan government owns a 48.9 percent stake in Kenya Airways, while Air France-KLM has 7.8 percent.

It was founded in 1977 following the demise of East African Airways and now flies to 42 destinations.

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