The future of air transport in the new era of innovation
John F Kennedy once observed that the word “crisis” in Chinese is made up of two characters, one representing danger and the other opportunity.
He might not have been quite right in linguistics, but the feeling is true. A crisis presents a choice or rather an opportunity. While the Covid-19 pandemic has caused disruption in our society and our economy, in the aviation industry, it has highlighted the need for innovation and diversification.
In 2019, Kenya Airways celebrated the highest passenger transport on record, which has now fallen by more than 60% to 2.4 million. Like all airlines, we reported record losses in 2020. IATA statistics show that around 70% of total passengers carried in 2020 were carried in the first three months, demonstrating the decline in demand. as the global crisis worsened.
The pandemic is predicted to affect demand for air travel over the next two to three years. The overview of the pandemic situation led us to create the Fahari Innovation Hub, a center for innovation and business incubation that enables accelerated transformation of ideas into sustainable business opportunities.
As we are the only airline to have developed this way in Africa, we are delighted to have developed an enabling environment that enables knowledge exchange and has an impact on business operations.
Our goal is to contribute to Africa’s sustainable development by empowering, partnering and co-creating cutting-edge ideas and strategies with local start-ups and the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) ecosystem. We understand that connecting with SME start-ups is a key driver for meaningful change and mutual benefit, hence the need to partner, collaborate and continuously learn from each other.
Through collaborative efforts with the National Youth Council (NYC) and colleges, we invited students to a design challenge to reward winners with a three-month learning program.
During the learning, students implemented their winning plans and end-to-end designs for the project. This included the construction of the Hub which was made from 70 percent recycled materials such as desks and interior decorations.
The students also had the opportunity to directly facilitate the logistics of the project in collaboration with the purchasing department of Kenya Airways.
In addition, GE Aviation has committed 3 million shillings to support the initiative. Financial support covered the cost of labor, logistics and facilitation and contributed to the overall success of the project.
There is a need to invent new paths for the future and to empower our young people with the right resources that will allow them to respond as flexibly as possible to changing times and various opportunities.
Harnessing and harnessing the potential of young people to design the Fahari Innovation Hub by accelerating the country’s mission to use new digital and environmentally friendly business models beyond theft is helping to shape Kenya’s future. Through the Hub, we hope to see improved skills, employment opportunities and community growth as well as support for local universities, businesses and SMEs as we contribute to Africa’s development.
Chairman and CEO, Kenya Airways