Kenya Airways phases out Embraer and Bombardier aircraft, moves toward single-type aircraft fleet.

In an effort to streamline operations and reduce costs, Kenya Airways is set to overhaul its fleet by gradually phasing out Embraer and Bombardier aircraft in favor of exclusively Boeing planes, implementing a mono-fleeting approach.

This strategic decision aligns with the airline's wider objective of fleet and network optimization, from short-term to long-term perspectives. CEO Allan Kilavuka confirmed last week that the carrier's board has greenlighted the transition to Boeing aircraft. However, he assured that this process will be measured and gradual to prevent operational disruptions.

Mono-fleeting, a savvy cost-containment approach, is anticipated to substantially simplify Kenya Airways' operations by reducing maintenance costs and streamlining training processes for both crew and engineers. "Mono-fleeting ushers in a more uniform fleet type, simplifying training and planning, and subsequently lowering costs associated with crew and spare parts," Kilavuka elaborated.

The departure from Embraer aircraft will also allow the African airline to operate larger aircraft, addressing concerns about the smaller sizes of current aircraft.

As of 2022, Kenya Airways' fleet comprised 39 aircraft, both owned and leased, which included nine Boeing 787 wide-body jets, eight Boeing 737 narrow-body jets, 13 Embraer regional jets, and seven Bombardier Dash 8-400 turboprops, in addition to two Boeing 737 freighters.

This fleet restructuring accompanies the airline's recent efforts to renegotiate lease rentals to further decrease leasing costs. In the previous year, Kenya Airways successfully restructured lease rentals with 10 out of 12 lessors, achieving an average lease reduction of 22 percent across the fleet.

The airline also extended sublease agreements for three Boeing B777-300ER craft until they reach 12 years of age, while returning two leased Embraer E190s upon the expiration of their leases.

The company's management reported that they had achieved an 18 percent reduction in aircraft rental obligations from 2021, translating to monthly savings of about Sh281 million ($2 million) and a reduction of Sh3 billion ($21 million) in outstanding lease deferrals.

Kenya Airways' transition to mono-fleeting is part of a broader initiative known as Project Kifaru, which aims to fortify the carrier's financial footing. However, the success of this initiative largely depends on the airline's ability to secure a strategic investor to ensure it is adequately capitalized for future endeavors.