What Happened To Kenya Airways’ Boeing 777-300ERs?

It was a joyous occasion when Kenya Airways received its first Boeing 777-300ER in October 2013. This plane would become one of three units of the widebody that the East African airline would seek to expand with. However, the carrier stopped operating the variant within a few years, and by 2016, they were flying elsewhere. What happened to these jets?

Kenya Airways 777
Kenya Airways was proud to receive the variant. Photo: Kenya Airways

High hopes

All of the deliveries were on lease, with two owned by GECAS, and the other by CDB Leasing. According to Planespotters.net, the first to arrive was registration 5Y-KZZ, which was nicknamed Maasai Mara. Following this, 5Y-KYZ joined in May 2014, flying with the nickname of Victoria Falls. After that, 5Y-KZX joined the fold in July of that year.

According to a press release following the delivery of the first 777-300ER to the airline, Dr. Titus Naikuni, who was Kenya Airways’ group managing director and chief executive officer at the time, highlighted the ambitions that the airline had for the carrier. The airline was excited to build opportunities with the widebody.

“The delivery of this Boeing 777-300ER aircraft marks a key milestone for us at Kenya Airways. Its long-haul capability is a perfect fit for our network expansion plans as it will enable us serve our existing long range markets much more effectively and facilitate the opening of routes in the near future,” he said, as per the press release.

“This is an important step as we continue opening up Africa to the rest of the world.”

Kenya Airways 777 jet
The carrier didn’t fly the jet for long. Photo: Kenya Airways

Change of plan

However, the airline phased out its 777s in 2015 after reporting losses and incurred debts in the previous financial year. Subsequently, it’s three 777-300ERs were subleased to Turkish Airlines in May 2016.

5Y-KZZ joined the flag carrier of Turkey as registration TC-LKA. Meanwhile, 5Y-LZY became TC-LKB, and 5Y-KZX flew as TC-LKC.

In 2018, there was speculation that Kenya Airways was planning to take back these planes. However, in the summer of 2019, it was confirmed that the airline would continue to sublease these jets.

Turkish_Airlines, TC-LKB Boeing 777-36N
TC-LKB flying with Turkish Airlines in December 2016. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons

Recent activity

Currently, all three of these 777-300ERs are listed as stored on Planespotters.net. Nonetheless, there has been some recent action with these planes.

For instance, TC-LKB was flying domestically and internationally throughout the summer. Its most recent trip was a flight back to Istanbul from London Heathrow on August 30th. Meanwhile, TC-LKA was also busy in August, with its most recent trip also being a flight from London to Istanbul, which occurred on August 31st. However, TC-LKA has not flown in the last few months.

With a fleet of 41 Boeing 777 aircraft, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Turkish Airlines no longer requires these subleased units following the global health crisis. Perhaps, these planes might remain in storage for a long time amid the current conditions.

What are your thoughts about Kenya Airways’ former Boeing 777-300ER aircraft? Have you flown on any of these units over the years? Let us know what you think of the type in the comment section.