Coronavirus break gives Kenya Airways time to service entire fleet of planes


Coronavirus break gives Kenya Airways time to service entire fleet of planes
File image of a fleet of Kenya Airways planes. PHOTO| COURTESY

National carrier Kenya Airways has embarked on an exercise that will see it service and maintain its entire fleet in a relatively short period of time following the grounding of its passenger services occasioned by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country, Kenya Airways has had its entire fleet grounded as countries grapple to contain the spread of the dreaded virus which has caused havoc around the world.

This unexpected break may have led to lost business but it has given Kenya Airways an opportunity to thoroughly service and maintain its fleet, which currently stand at 36 planes.

“So they do engine runs and checks and all round for the aircraft, all aircraft so that when time comes for flying they can take off. Unlike a vehicle, an aircraft needs constant maintenance,” Allan Kilavuka, Chief Executive Officer at Kenya Airways.

Ideally, maintenance of an aircraft is an expensive field, hence the reason why many experts root for boosting of local capacity.

“Like the wheels just the tires alone assembling it requires three major parts. The tire, the trade itself will require $10,000 that translates to Ksh.1 million. The break unit which is supposed to stop the aircraft has some ‘brake pads’ that will go a typical overhaul for that would be $40,000 or around Ksh.40 million,” reiterates Kihara.

According to Kenya Airways Technical Director Evans Kihara it costs close to Ksh.1 billion to maintain the engine of a Boeing 787 aircraft.

“The acquisition for typical 787 engine, GNX will cost you around $30 million, equivalent to Ksh.3 billion. Maintenance for such an engine will cost around $8 million, equivalent to Ksh.800 million for the overhaul event for that particular engine.”

The price of the engine therefore is more or less half the price of a brand new aircraft.

A typical lifeline for a dreamliner plane would be roughly 12 to 15 years. Beyond this, it becomes uneconomical to maintain such an aircraft as it becomes more expensive to service an ageing fleet.

The national carrier currently has 600 technical staff. Out of this number 350 are currently active, as the airline implements measures to stop the spread of covid-19 in the country.

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Story By Dennis Otieno
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