Kenya Airways has posted a KES8.6 billion ($83 million) interim net loss for the first six months of 2019, double the KES4 million net loss for the same period in 2018.

During the six months ended June 30, passenger numbers rose 6.6% to 2.4 million, boosted by new routes to Geneva (Switzerland), Libreville (Gabon), Malindi (Kenya), Mauritius, Mogadishu (Somalia), New York (US) and Rome (Italy).

This network expansion pushed revenue up 12.2% to KES58.55 billion, with ancillary and revenues rising 45.2%.

“The strategic investment initiatives the airline has been implementing in the turnaround program for the past two years are progressively paying off,” Kenya Airways said.

However, the new route additions pushed direct operating costs up 5.3% to KES23.2 billion, with fuel costs rising 5.1% to KES15.7 billion.

During the period, Kenya Airways also took back two Boeing 787s that were subleased to Oman Air, cutting lease revenue that was being used to mitigate route-launch costs.

“The two widebody aircraft were brought back to support operations in the new long-haul routes and their costs are now fully borne by Kenya Airways. As the new operations continue, we will see further positive returns from the enhanced fleet,” Kenya Airways group CEO and MD Sebastian Mikosz said.

All these factors pushed Kenya Airways to a KES8.6 billion pre-tax loss.

“The Nairobi-New York route, which was launched in October 2018, has exceeded expectation and continues to record positive passenger uptake. We expect improved revenue from all our key routes in the second half of the year based on the forward bookings, which show an improvement from the previous year,” Mikosz said.

“We have our eyes on the bigger picture,” Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph added.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@informa.com