EgyptAir plans to place major aircraft orders in the next two months, even as it watches losses mount since the momentous events that unseated former president Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, its CEO said, speaking at the Dubai Airshow on November 19.
EgyptAir chairman and chief executive Hossam Kamal hinted the company had not participated in the Dubai order-fest as a response to the malaise facing Egypt’s vital tourism sector, but he said he hoped business would recover during the Christmas and New Year holiday season. Egypt continues to suffer domestic unrest that saw the overthrow of two presidents: Mubarak, in February 2011; and Mohammed Morsi, this past July.
Kamal cited a sharp drop in tourism figures since the fall of Morsi, and the airline has seen its load factors fall from 80 percent to 65 percent since the dawn of the Arab Spring.
“No profits have been announced since the [removal of Mubarak], but we have reduced our losses,” said Kamal. “Of course we were very much affected in the past years. I don’t think there is any airline in the world that passed through the situation we have faced.”
EgyptAir’s fleet now consists of 81 aircraft, including 10 Boeing 777s, 20 Boeing 737-800s, as well as Airbus A320s, A330s and A340s and 12 Embraer E170s operated by its regional subsidiary, EgyptAir Express. Several old aircraft in the fleet need replacing, said Kamal, and expansion plans include the addition of 70 narrowbodies.
“We have an expansion plan to reach 127 aircraft by 2025, 32 of them widebodies,” said Kamal. “We are planning to take the A330-200s out of the fleet by 2018, and to replace them with the A350 or the 787-8. [We will announce an order] within a month or two maximum. Time is running. We miss slots if we are late.”
Kamal said improving connectivity in Africa stands as a key company goal, despite the presence of the Arabian Gulf carriers. “Right now we have 22 destinations in Africa,” he noted. “EgyptAir’s network is one of the best in the area. We already have code shares with many airlines. We are a member of the Star Alliance. We are connecting east to west. Forty percent of our traffic is fifth-freedom traffic. Four airlines are controlling the [African] market: EgyptAir, South African Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways.”
Despite Egypt’s travails, Kamal is optimistic. “Yes, we have seen a drop in the number of passengers and we are affected financially,” he conceded. “But we will keep surviving, and we are looking forward to a better future.”