Kenya Airways was established in February, 1977, following the break up of the East African Community and subsequent disbanding of the jointly-owned East African Airways.
Starting in 1991, the government has given priority to privatisation of the airline.
In the fiscal year 1993 to 1994, the airline made profit for the first time.
In 1996, the airline started trading on the Nairobi Stock Exchange.
Three years later, Kenya Airways was voted African Airline of the Year by African Aviation Magazine, a UK-based publication, and Best Regional Airline in Eastern Africa by Travel News, a Kenyan publication.
In 2003, after receiving more awards for its services in the previous years, Kenya Airways acquires 49% shareholding in Precision Air, a Tanzanian carrier.
In 2005, two new Boeing 777-200ERs join the fleet, and new routes are being opened.
In March, 2006, Kenya Airways wins the ‘African Airline of the Year’ Award (for the previous year) for the fifth time in seven years.
In early September, 2007, Kenya Airways joined SkyTeam as an Associate Airline.
In 2008, Travel News & Lifestyle Magazine votes Kenya Airways as African Airline of Choice, Best Regional Airline, Flying Blue voted the best Frequent Flier program and Msafiri – Best in-flight magazine.
In 2009, Kenya Airways acquired the sixth Boeing 767-300ER and took delivery of its fourth Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Also, a modern In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) System is installed to offer passengers real value for money.
In June 2010, the airline became a full member of SkyTeam.
In 2011, Kenya Airways announced its plans to buy 26 aircrafts from Embraer and ordered nine B787 Dream liners. This is the year when Kenya Airways surpassed the 3 million passenger mark.
In 2012, Kenya Airways added the 10th Embraer to its growing fleet and started direct flights to New Delhi.
In March 2013, Kenya Airways announced it will invest $ 3.6 billion USD on new aircrafts to establish new routes between Asia and Africa.
In October 2013, Kenya Airways received its first Boeing 777-300ER, the largest aircraft in Kenya’s fleet with a seating capacity of 400 seats. The airline currently operates more than 40 aircraft to more than 50 destinations in Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe.
In April 2014, Kenya Airways took delivery of its first B787 Dreamliner. Kenya Airways’ first B787 Dreamliner began flying regionally within Africa in the first weeks before beginning long-haul service to Paris in early June.
In January 2015, Kenya Airways had 6 Dreamliners in its fleet and began using the B787-8 on its daily London-Nairobi route. By the end of the year, all 9 B787-8 Dreamliners, ordered in 2011 as part of the airline’s 10-year strategic plan focused on expanding the fleet from 44 to 107 airplanes and increasing its destinations from 62 to 115 by 2021, joined the fleet.
In March 2016, Kenya Airways and Oman Air agreed on a three-year wet lease arrangement for two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners. Kenya Airways also sold its London Heathrow slot to the Omani national carrier that started a second daily service to London Heathrow.
In January 2017, Kenya Airways and Hong Kong Airlines signed a codeshare agreement on the Bangkok – Hong Kong route. Under the agreement, Kenya Airways will have a daily product between these two key business cities by placing its KQ code on one of Hong Kong Airlines’ daily flights between Hong Kong and Bangkok.
In 2018, Kenya Airways continued the business turnaround program to return to profitability through revenue enhancement, cost optimization, refocusing and resizing the business model and enhancing partnerships. The turnaround operation included network expansion with four new destinations: New York, Mauritius, Libreville, and Mogadishu. This was the second consecutive year of improved financial performance and business growth for Kenya Airways.
In 2019, five sub-leased aircraft, two Boeing 787-8 and three Boeing 777 300ER, are to re-join Kenya Airways fleet by the end of the year. However, the airline is exploring the extension of the subleases of the three B777-300ER for a further period and is also considering the sale and leaseback of seven aircraft as part of the fleet rationalization project.
Kenya Airlines aircraft have been involved in only two deadly incidents. The first one occurred on the 31st of January, 2000, when an Airbus A310 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean after takeoff from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, killing 169 of the 179 people on board, and the second one took place in early May, 2007, when a Boeing 737-800 belonging to Kenya Airlines crashed in a mangrove swamp near Douala International Airport and all 114 people on board perished.