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Kenya Airways to boost Europe routes with first 787 plane

26 March 2014, 17:34

Nairobi - Kenya Airways will deploy its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner plane on its Paris route as it looks to expand European routes currently being served by its ageing Boeing 767s, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

The national carrier is set to receive nine 787s from Boeing Co. by July 2015, with the first arriving next month.

"It (Paris route) is busy and we would like to develop it and that is why we are starting with it," Titus Naikuni told a news conference.

Air France-KLM holds a 26.73 percent stake in Kenya Airways and the state owns 29.8 percent. Among the largest carriers in Africa, Kenya Airways is ramping up its fleet as part of a 10-year strategic plan premised on ferrying passengers and cargo into and out of Africa through its Nairobi hub.

The airline is also set to receive two Boeing 777-300ER planes this year after taking delivery of the first one last November. Naikuni said the airline was not worried by the initial problems encountered by operators of the Dreamliner in its first three years of service.

A Boeing 878 Dreamliner plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines caught fire at London's Heathrow Airport in July last year.

All Boeing Dreamliners in service were earlier grounded due to concerns over their lithium ion batteries.

"I would say we are 98 or 99 percent confident and this confidence builds upon having visited a number of operators who have had the aircraft before us," Naikuni said.

Kenya Airways will launch the country's first budget carrier Jambojet this week. It aims to lure bus passengers into flying through low-priced fares on a continent where air fares are among the world's most expensive.

- Reuters


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