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Bidding to maximize fuel efficiency and effectively monitor operations, Kenya’s national carrier has picked General Electric aviation, a leading aircraft engine supplier, for the Flight Operations suite of digital products across its Boeing 737, 787, and Embraer 190 aircrafts. The Flight Operations suite is a technology that integrates various operational data including flight details, weather forecast and navigation, among others.

The agreement, which was reached in Paris, was signed by Paul Njoroge, the airline’s Director of Operations. Mr Njoroge hailed General Electric’s position in the aircraft engine market and said this partnership would help the airline achieve optimal operational efficiencies, as well as upgrade customer experience. The airline said it chose GE Aviation because of its “innovative flight analytics and overall leadership in aviation technology.”

Chief digital officer for GE Aviation John Mansfield said, “Kenya Airways has been looking for ways to monitor the performance of its fleet and initiatives to track fuel saving and improve efficiency. The Flight Operations suite provides these insights and can be scaled up to provide additional functionality.” Mansfield said GE hopes to help Kenya Airways reduce its multi-million fuel bill and fast-track other efficiencies, drawing on his company’s experience from more than 175 million flights.

Around this time last year, the airline said it had recorded a pre-tax improvement of about thirty-one percent between December 2017 and June 2018. While revenue increased by more than three percent, direct operating costs increased by nearly fourteen percent, due to increased pressure on global fuel prices. But by end of the year 2018, the airline was spending a reported twenty-seven percent of its expenditure on fuel, necessitating a change of approach to consumption.

It is clear that global fuel prices will continue to spiral, with instability in some of the major oil producing nations making the market volatile. When the IATA said African airlines would record losses this year, the fifth successive year, fuel expenses was a chief culprit. Other African giants like EgyptAir have taken steps to find precious alternatives on long-haul aircraft. Kenya Airways will now hope to separate herself from the loss-posters in the near future as it reaps the rewards of forward-looking partnerships like this.

Meanwhile, the airline is also reportedly considering turning itself over to government ownership, in order to stand itself competitively with regional rivals Ethiopia Airlines and UAE’s Emirates, both state-owned. The airline is currently owned 48.9 percent by the Kenyan government, 38.1 percent by a consortium of eleven local banks and the remainder 7.8 percent is jointly held by Air France and KLM.

By Caleb Ajinomoh.

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