June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya Airways Ltd., sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest airline, plans to begin flights to Libya and Tunisia within three years.
“It was always in our plan to open up Tripoli and Tunisia, more so with the African Development Bank being based there, and also with North Africa starting to look south,” Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni said in an interview in the capital, Nairobi, yesterday. Talks between the airline and the Kenyan, Libyan and Tunisian governments have been slowed by political instability in the two North African nations, he said.
The airline’s only route in North Africa is to Egypt. Kenya’s national carrier will add eight new destinations this year, including the capitals of Nigeria, Chad, Togo and Burkina Faso, as well as Mauritius and the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, in 2011. Nairobi-based Kenya Airways, also known as KQ, plans to double the size of its fleet to 60 in the next four years.
Kenya Airways is training 100 pilots who will be ready to fly its fleet in the next two years, Naikuni said. The carrier, which had 177 pilots in 2002, has 377 pilots, short of the 500 it requires to be optimally staffed, he said. It may look to hire foreign pilots to cover the gap, Naikuni said.
South African Airways and Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise are sub-Saharan Africa’s two biggest carriers, according to IATA, which represents more than 230 airlines making up about 93 percent of scheduled international air traffic.
--Editors: Vernon Wessels, Karl Maier.
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