kq-etA few months ago, we posted an article comparing Kenya Airways and Emirates, and we were called names for portraying KQ crew unfavourably. We have however decided to do a spin-off, this time comparing the ticket pricing of our national carrier to that of Ethiopian.

Some have always wondered where the ‘Q’ in KQ came from. When the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is giving airlines their two letter codes, the first option is always the abbreviations. So, Kenya Airways should have been KA, just like British Airways is BA.

However, that was taken and so they had to think fast. I think KQ is actually nicer to say than KA.

That aside, the issue is the super loss our national carrier announced last week. They made as much a loss as Safaricom’s profit, and that has never happened before.

It was a clear case of bad decisions by past and present managers. Revenue went up but the expenditure increased exponentially.

Why is KQ’s main competitor Ethiopian Airlines doing so well?

Last year, Ethiopian Airlines recorded a Sh23 Billion profit and that may go up when this year’s results are released. They are doing so well that Obama even paid them a visit on his tour last week, praising them for their continued partnership with Boeing. Ethiopian already has 13 Dreamliners and has 8 on order.

Obama with Ato Tewolde – CEO Ethiopian Airlines

Though Kenya Airways has a smaller fleet than Ethiopia, the financial results do not make any sense. So what makes our neighbours so special?

It is common knowledge that despite KQ’s passenger numbers increasing, they still have many flights with empty seats. This clearly has to do with their ticket pricing. Who says the passenger numbers cannot increase upon a fare review?

We sought to find out just how expensive Kenya Airways is compared to Ethiopian Airlines.

Using booking website Travelstart.co.ke, we looked at some of the most popular routes and the results were eye-opening. (These are return Economy tickets for 1st of September 2015, for 1 passenger.)

Nairobi – Dar-es-Salaam

Kenya Airways – $651
Ethiopian – $328


Nairobi – Johannesburg

Kenya Airways – $771
Ethiopian – $533


Nairobi – Lagos

Kenya Airways – $1,507
Ethiopian – $1,108


Nairobi – Kigali

Kenya Airways – $658
Ethiopian – $294


Nairobi – Juba

Kenya Airways – $608
Ethiopian – $462


Nairobi – Entebbe (Uganda)

Kenya Airways – $569
Ethiopian – $356


Nairobi – Dubai

This has become quite a popular route and for this, we went to the respective airline’s websites, and the difference is clear.

Kenya Airways – Sh37,947 (one way)


Ethiopian – Sh19,670 (one way) kq9

For Ethiopian Airlines, you may have to make a stopover in Addis Ababa, but it’s very worth it if it saves you half the cost.

I’m pretty sure many Kenyans would want to fly KQ. It makes us proud and it’s the right thing to do. However, if the issue is between patriotism and saving Sh20,000, Jah Rastafari Haile Selassie.