Kenya Airways has taken delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The first Boeing 787-8 for the Kenyan flag-carrier departed Paine Field in Everett, where most of Boeing’s widebody final assembly lines are located, on April 4 for a 7,800-nautical mile (14,456-kilometer) non-stop flight to the airline’s home base at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (IATA code NBO), which serves Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
According to the manufacturer, the Boeing 787 will form the backbone of the airline’s future long-haul fleet.
“The delivery of our first ever 787 Dreamliner not only opens a new chapter for our airline, but also for Kenya,” said Dr. Titus Naikuni, chief executive officer of Kenya Airways.
Adds Naikuni: “The 787 will enable Kenya Airways to explore new markets, improve its economic performance, provide passengers with revolutionary comfort, while continuing to contribute towards the sustainable development of Africa.”
The aircraft is the first of nine Boeing 787-8s set to join Kenya Airways’ fleet. The deliveries of the additional 787s, along with two additional Boeing 777-300ER widebodies to add to one already in service, forms part of the East African carrier’s 10-year strategic plan, which it calls “Project Mawingu”.
According to Boeing, this plan is focused on increasing the airline’s fleet size from 44 aircraft to 107 by 2021 and the number of destinations in its network from 62 to 115.
Currently the Nairobi-based carrier, which is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance, operates an all-Boeing long-haul fleet of six 767-300ERs, four 777-200ERs and one 777-300ER.
The airline also operates an all-jet short-to-medium haul fleet which includes Boeing 737-300s, Boeing 737-700s, Boeing 737-800s, Embraer 170s and Embraer 190s. Two of the carrier’s 737-300s have newly become the initial equipment for Kenya Airways’ new low-cost brand, JamboJet.
Kenya Airways’ first Boeing 787-8 is scheduled to begin flying regionally within Africa in the coming weeks, before beginning long-haul service to Paris in early June.
The “Pride of Africa”, as Kenya Airways calls itself, serves destinations across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
To date, more than 130 Boeing 787 Dreamliners have been delivered to 17 customers worldwide. All 787s delivered to date have been 787-8s but delivery of the first Boeing 787-9 is due to be made to Air New Zealand, the launch customer for the model, in mid-2014 after the 787-9 has achieved FAA certification.