With over 26 years of experience in the airline industry, Leloup first joined Emirates in 2012, taking on the role of Area Manager in Côte d’Ivoire and overseeing commercial operations across a number of other West African markets. He then moved on to lead Emirates operations Senegal and a number of other surrounding markets in Africa.
Over the years, Leloup has led the airline’s fast-paced market growth, consolidating its presence across West Africa by increasing frequencies for enhanced connectivity and more capacity to serve passenger demand. Prior to his Country Manager role in Kenya, Leloup was stationed as Area Manager for Senegal. Leloup holds a Master of Sciences in International Management from the MBA Institute in Paris.
It has been one year since your appointment as Kenya’s Country Manager. How has it been so far?
It has been a busy year for me so far. We have considerably restored our passenger operations here in Kenya, and have grown our cargo business in line with global demand, in spite of the challenges, bouncing back with a high degree of robustness as travel restrictions began to ease. The travel industry
in general has been navigating a positive recovery and we hope that it continues to grow from strength to strength.
Emirates is a major player in East Africa’s regional aviation scene, how significant is the Kenyan market?
Emirates has been operating to Nairobi since 1995. Kenya is a major market for us in Africa in terms of passenger operations and is the leading market for our cargo business in Africa. Emirates has long understood the enormous potential of Africa, which today is one of the fastest-expanding economic regions of the world, benefitting from a combined market of over one billion people, rising consumer demand and an abundance of natural resources and Kenya remains one of our key markets in Africa.
At the moment, our key focus is to strengthen our operations and maintain and grow load factors as the industry continues to navigate recovery. We will continue to assess and carefully analyze the markets in which we operate, their performance and needs, which will show if there are more opportunities for us
to further expand our presence.
How has business been since the Kenya-Dubai airspace was reopened for business?
We have seen continued and consistent demand for our services since we resumed the passenger flights. We have been operating 10 weekly passenger flights from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Dubai International Airport. We are keen to return to our pre-pandemic operations to/from
Nairobi once operationally viable to do so. We’re confident that we will emerge from the pandemic well-positioned not only to compete but also thrive and grow even further, and we will continue to take positive steps to secure our long-term future.
With the Expo 2020 coming to an end this month, what have been the travel trends from Nairobi based on the complimentary entrance ticket attached to passengers bookings?
As Premier Partner and Official Airline of Expo 2020 Dubai, we are honored to be part of the world’s greatest show. As we approach the grand finale, Emirates customers travelling to Dubai anytime now or during the final month of Expo 2020, will be eligible to receive a free Emirates Expo Season Pass for
every flight ticket booked with the airline, to visit the event as many times as they like until 31 March 2022. Since October 2021, we have seen significant traffic from Kenya to Dubai and a lot of this can be attributed to Expo 2020 Dubai.
COVID-19 had a negative impact on airlines across the world, how is Emirates fairing and what learnings would you say that the airline got from the pandemic?
Emirates has been working hard to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on our business. From the outset of the pandemic, customer health and safety have always been a priority, and we continue to take measures to protect our customers and crew given the evolving nature of this virus.
Our modern aircraft use HEPA filters, which remove 99.97% of viruses, germs, and allergens. Other innovative safety measures, including biometric journeys and contactless technology, enable customers to check in with their phones, reducing contact and ensuring a safer airport journey. We’re also the first airline to enable our customers to utilise the IATA Travel Pass, which can now be used across 50 airports served by Emirates.
We’re also working hard to deliver more assurances to travelers through extending our Covid-19 medical cover which they automatically qualify for once they purchase their tickets, flexible booking policies, as well as supporting our loyal frequent flyers by extending their tier miles and status.
In Kenya, horticulture is one of the biggest forex earners. What percentage of this cargo market share does Emirates SkyCargo command?
Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of Emirates continues to airlift significant tonnage of horticulture to Dubai and onwards to key export markets. In addition, Emirates SkyCargo continued to play a vital role in supporting Kenyan businesses through the transportation of food commodities and horticulture using its Boeing 777-300ERs passenger aircrafts from Nairobi to Dubai.
Besides our cargo flights operating from Eldoret International Airport, our utilization of the lower deck capacity on our wide body Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft has enabled us to adapt our cargo operations while keeping Kenyan businesses and trade running.
What are some of the unique cargo that you have transported since the pandemic began?
Emirates SkyCargo has announced that it has crossed a major milestone in the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines with 600 million doses flown on its flights, including close to 13 million doses transported to Kenya. Since October 2020, the carrier has transported more than 2.8 million kilograms (2800 tonnes) of COVID-19 vaccines from 35 origins to over 80 destinations.
What can passengers expect from the Emirates moving forward?
Emirates is focused on rebuilding its global network, safely, sensibly and sustainably. As of January 2022, we had returned close to 90% of our pre-pandemic destination network serving more than 128 passenger destinations and offering travelers safe and convenient connections between the Middle
East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas through our Dubai hub. We operate over 2,500 network wide departures per week. We were one of the first airlines in the world to spearhead progressive passenger booking policies to
make it easier for them to protect their travel plans. We’ve extended our booking waiver for travel through 31 May 2022, ensuring customers can book with confidence knowing they are fully supported should their travel situation change.
As we value our customers, we have extended Emirates Skywards tier status for over 630,000 Silver, Gold and Platinum members until 2022. This means that the validity of over 51 billion Skywards Miles is extended, allowing members to hold on to them for future flights, upgrades and other partner rewards.