….The airline has expressed desire to keep flying Kenyan route
British Airways (BA) appointed Kevin Leung as its new commercial manager for Kenya in June, 2016 replacing long-serving executive George Mawadri who resigned in January this year.
Prior to his appointment the 25-year-old alumna of University College London and the London School of Economics, Leung had been in charge of the airline’s commercial operations in Ghana since March, 2015.
He has hit the ground- running in his new role and is determined to take the airline to the next level while betting on his immense, albeit short involvement with British Airways.
He holds a Master’s Degree in Health, Population and Society and has over three years’ connection with the airline’s planning, customer service and sales development, knowledge gained during his previous roles in London.
He played a pivotal onus in the in-flight customer experience, business planning and performance projects which led to a smooth primer of new aircraft to the British Airways’ fleet.
The African Business Fortune had a rare conversation with Mr. Leung to discuss his immediate plans for the airline as well as his thoughts on whether ‘BREXIT’ decision would impact the airline’s operations both locally and regionally.
Here is part of the Excerpts
The African Business Fortune: What are your immediate plans for BA as you assume your new role in Kenya?
Mr. Leung: Since I have been in Kenya from the end of January, we’ve looked at a few exciting things into the market. First thing we are doing is putting in larger aircrafts in our fleet back into Kenya, which will offer over seven hundred seats a week extra into the Kenyan market.
We have increased our passenger capacity between London and Nairobi by introducing the Boeing 747-400 adding 784 seats a week on the route. The larger aircraft targets both leisure and business traveler and will operate during the busy four-month period extending to October. From that angle we remain committed to the market which will be exciting for Kenyans.
Kenya has a huge potential and opportunity and what we had before, what we did not have before we have improved. We just launched our new menu. We have made the changes in the program that are quite rewarding to our customers. And when you look at the aviation industry, you can see a lot of innovation and growth and so our aim is to meet those demands.
The African Business Fortune: Gulf-based carriers have in recent years encroached into your traditional routes and seem to be thriving in this attempt. Is it now safe to say that BA is feeling an uphill struggle against Mideast rivals?
Mr. Leung: The aviation market is incredibly competitive right now, we only have to focus on our customers’ demands, beyond that we are the larger aircraft and have a massive network, therefore have to stay ahead of competition.
Competition helps us not to remain inert, the fact that we’ve been here for several years I think it communicates a lot of our consistency in the industry.
The African Business Fortune: The shocking decision by British people to leave European Union (EU) has seen British pound plunge to a high low in decades and a slump in Britain’s economy is inevitable, do you think BREXIT wave would cut into the number of UK passengers visiting Kenya, a key market for BA?
Mr. Leung: We are still committed to the Kenyan market and do not have intentions to pull out. I’m not anticipating any material long-term impact on us; maybe short-term we will have a little of that.
Over the course of 85years or so we have been around, we do not anticipate any material impact on our operations. It will have a short term impact on British travellers, people knew about this but we are constantly watching out. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen. Everyone is waiting to see just like everyone else.
We are taking each step at a time and genuinely don’t know what will happen. In the aviation industry we deal with uncertainty every day.
The African Business Fortune: Do you think the decision will affect the relationship Kenya has enjoyed with UK?
Mr. Leung: Again, it’s a sort of thing where we’ll have to watch and see because no one really knows. My gut feeling at the moment is that there is opportunity out there and risk as well like in any situation. Once the details come out I think we will be able to see how that pans out and what the impact would be
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