Kenya Airways Cargo is planning to expand its freighter fleet following the success of its cargo-only flights during the Covid pandemic.
The airline is looking to add two B737-800Fs to its existing short-haul freighter fleet, which currently consists of two B737-300Fs. The new freighters have better range and can reach further afield than the existing freighters, with the ability to carry around 20 tonnes to destinations in the Middle East, India, Istanbul, and Southern Europe.
According to Kenya Airways’ cargo director, Dick Murianki, speaking on the sidelines of the Air Cargo Africa event in Johannesburg, the airline developed a customer base during the Covid pandemic that is yearning for more, especially to the Middle East and India.
Speaking at a conference session later in the day, the airline’s chief executive, Allan Kilavuka, said that two B787-9 Dreamliners had been used on cargo-only flights to long-haul destinations in China and Europe during the pandemic, with each aircraft able to carry around 50 tonnes per flight. He added that outbound volumes during the cargo-only operation had been much stronger than inbound, but there could be an opportunity to use Nairobi as an import hub for the rest of Africa.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a surge in air cargo demand, as passenger flights were significantly reduced due to travel restrictions. Cargo carriers have stepped in to meet the demand, using their freighter fleets to transport medical supplies, perishable goods, and other essential items. Kenya Airways Cargo’s expansion of its freighter fleet is a strategic move to capitalize on the growing demand for air cargo, as the airline aims to develop its cargo operations further.
Freighters, as compared with bellyhold operations, allow carriers to operate long-haul flights to airports where passenger demand isn’t strong enough to justify the use of larger aircraft.
The success of cargo-only operations during the pandemic has demonstrated the potential for expanding air cargo services in the future, and the investment in new freighters will enable Kenya Airways Cargo to position itself as a leading provider of air cargo services in Africa.
Featured image: Kenya Airways