NAIROBI, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Kenya Airways said Tuesday its recovery strategy continues to bear fruit as passenger traffic grew by 2.3 percent in the third quarter (October-December 2016) compared to the same quarter prior year.
The airline said it flew 102,749 passengers to Europe, a growth of 2.8 percent, despite a 0.7 percent capacity decline, driving the seat occupancy level to a higher Cabin Factor of 83 percent compared to prior year's 80 percent.
"Despite a reduction of 15.6 percent in capacity, the uplifted passenger traffic at 138,700 in the Middle East and Far East regions showed a decline of 6.8 percent on prior year level, but an improvement of 5.3 percent from 65.9 percent to 71.2 percent cabin factor," it said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
The company said passenger numbers in Africa, excluding Kenya, grew by 5.2 percent to 530,842 during the quarter compared to same period the prior year.
The achieved passenger Cabin Factor improved by 3.4 percent to 65.6 percent compared to prior year. In Kenya, passengers grew to 347,136, a 10.3 percent increase, driving Cabin Factor up by 3.3 percent to 79.0 percent.
The airline put into the market place a total capacity of 3,553 million seat kilometres compared to 3,676 million offered in a similar period prior year, representing a 3.4 percent reduction year on year.
"During this quarter the airline continued its network optimisation, enhancing operations into the Indian Ocean Island of Zanzibar via Kilimanjaro and to Capet Town via Livingstone," Kenya Airways said.
The capacity offered into Europe, using the Boeing 787, remained largely at par with the prior year.
Capacity offered into the Middle East, China and India declined compared to same period the prior year as the airline deployed the Boeing 787-8 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft, as compared to the higher capacity Boeing 777-300 largely used in the previous year.
During the period the airline continued to invest in Africa, its mainstay. Capacity offered to Northern Africa region grew by 9.6 percent compared to prior year driven by increased frequencies to Addis Ababa and Juba.
In the East African region capacity grew by 7.1 percent driven by more operations on the Boeing 737-800, which has a higher capacity, and additional frequencies.
Capacity offered into West, South and Central African regions grew by 2.5 percent compared to same period in the prior year with the introduction of the Nairobi-Entebbe-Bangui route, as well as the Nairobi-Doula-Bangui flight.
The airline, however, suspended Gaborone and Abuja operations in November in an effort to optimize operations in Africa during the quarter.
During this quarter the airline said it continued to operate a smaller fleet more efficiently, as part of its recovery strategy.
The total passengers uplifted by the more efficient airline stood at 1.12 million, 4.8 percent growth, achieving a cabin factor of 72 percent compared to 68 percent achieved during the same period last year.