The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) revoked Kenya Airways’ (KQ) Part 145 aircraft maintenance license after the airline failed a recent compliance audit. Without this license, KQ can no longer perform Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) activities on European-registered aircraft.
EASA specifically requested that the airline incorporate a temperature control device and separate its general storage. The airline protested the former request by claiming the climate in Kenya nullifies the need for advanced temperature controls.
"As you may know we are in the tropics and our manuals do not require us to have temperature controls such as those in Europe where there are extremes. We are, however, working on compliance,” Gilbert Bett, the technical director for KQ told the Business Daily.
Without the license, the airline stands to lose significant revenue from maintenance operations. Hence, they must work towards regaining it in due time.
Kenya Airways applied for the Part 145 approval in their bid to expand their MRO arm by catering to European-registered airplanes.
EASA is the certification and regulatory body in charge of overseeing airlines operating in Europe and other aviation activities for European registered aircraft. EASA is just one of the regulatory bodies KQ works with.
Kenya Airways Exploring Other Revenue Streams.
The airline industry is one of the least profitable in the aviation sector. Most airlines run with little to no profitability, surviving mostly on government aid, ancillary services and alternative streams of income. This sounds unlikely since airlines rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue every year, however, these are often swallowed up by the extremely high maintenance costs, as well as other smaller operational costs.
Kenya Airways – which operates in over 60 countries with a fleet comprising 39 aircraft – is a public-private partnership. The airline, even with its status as one of Africa’s largest airlines, has a track record of being loss-making. In 2020, the airline’s financial report showed that they made a net loss of 323 million USD, their worst hit in recent years owing to the pandemic. The Kenyan government has intervened significantly year after year to keep the airline afloat.
The expansion of KQ’s MRO facilities as an alternative revenue stream could prove very lucrative for the airline. The lack of the Part 145 license will not cost the airline any immediate revenue as they do not currently have any European-registered aircraft in their facility. However, delays in regaining the certification may leave a mark.
In light of the pandemic, KQ has made a number of wise cost-cutting moves. One such move was the redrafting of its aircraft leasing agreements to only pay for aircraft in active service by opting for hourly rates rather than fixed costs. According to Simple Flying, this resulted in savings of about 45 million USD (4.7 billion KES) for the airline.
However, two lessors opposed the airline’s new payment terms in April. This resulted in KQ having to ground the lessors’ planes at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.