Kenya Airways, grappling with a missed opportunity at the Dubai Airshow, found itself on the sidelines as rival carriers, notably Ethiopian Airways, orchestrated significant aircraft orders, further intensifying the competition within the aviation sector.

Despite its conspicuous absence in the flurry of orders, Kenya Airways (KQ) expressed optimism regarding the imminent overhaul of its current Embraer fleet within the next two to three years.

Allan Kilavuka, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer, disclosed the timeline, saying the carrier is still optimistic in replacing its aging fleet.

“We did not make orders this year, but we will be replacing our fleet in two to three years,” said Mr Kilavuka.

In stark contrast, Ethiopian Airlines emerged as a prominent player, announcing a substantial agreement with Boeing for the procurement of 31 cutting-edge airplanes, with an option for an additional 36 aircraft.

Mesfin Tasew, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group, said the order will enable the to modernise and increase its fleet in support of the airlines’ growth plan and Vision 2035 Strategy.

Ethiopia’s move focuses on the 787-9 variant, part of the Dreamliner family renowned for its 25 percent reduction in fuel consumption and emissions compared to its predecessors.

During the event, Emirates, too, made a commitment, pledging a staggering $52 billion for the acquisition of 295 aircraft, encompassing Boeing 777-9s, 777-8s, and 787s.

The substantial investment underscores Emirates’ dedication to fleet expansion, ensuring operational efficiency, and delivering an unparalleled flying experience to its clientele.

For Kenya Airways, currently mulling over options for the replacement of its Embraer 190 fleet, the Boeing 737 Max emerges as a plausible candidate.

The national carrier, which previously announced plans to phase out Brazilian-manufactured Embraer jets in favor of an all-Boeing fleet, is aligning its choices to maintain consistency within its aircraft portfolio.

At present, Kenya Airways operates a fleet comprising 39 aircraft, a mix of owned and leased assets. Notably, the fleet includes nine Boeing 787 wide-body jets primarily utilised for long-haul flights, eight Boeing 737 narrow-body jets, 13 Embraer jets, and two Boeing 737 freighters.

The airline’s evolving strategy reflects a concerted effort to enhance operational efficiency, foster growth, and meet the evolving demands of the competitive aviation landscape.