Kenya’s national rugby team returned home triumphant yesterday (April 19th) after winning the Rugby Sevens tournament in Singapore. At Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, they were welcomed by a red carpet, flanked with fans, and dancers draped in the Kenyan flag, but fans quickly observed that something was wrong with the picture:
Instead of returning on Kenya Airways, the country’s national airline as well as sponsor for the team, the players flew on Qatar Airways. It is yet another example of bungles made at the airline better known as its airline code “KQ.” After three years of losses, including $255 million last year, the biggest in Kenya’s corporate history, it is cutting 15% of its staff and seeking capital for an expensive restructuring. The airline is struggling to compete against Middle Eastern carriers like Qatar Airways with their cheaper fares and newer planes.
According to KQ, there’s a simple explanation. “Qatar Airways was the official carrier for the Hong Kong and Singapore legs of the HSBC Sevens series,” the airline’s CEO Mbuvi Ngunze told reporters. The airline has been tweeting explanations, including that it does not have flights to Singapore. After the team’s arrival yesterday, the airline quickly posted a photo of them next to a Kenya Airways plane and offered them three free flights anywhere they like.