Kenya Airways Cargo looks to expand freighter fleet

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Kenya Airways Cargo is looking to expand its freighter fleet following the success of its cargo-only flights during the Covid pandemic.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Air Cargo Africa event in Johannesburg, Kenya Airways’ cargo director Dick Murianki said the carrier would initially look to add to its existing short-haul freighter fleet, which currently consists of two B737-300Fs.

Murianki said that the carrier was hoping to add two B373-800Fs, which have better range and can reach further afield than the existing freighters.

“They can go from Nairobi to the Middle East and India and even have the range to reach Istanbul and southern Europe carrying around 20 tonnes,” he explained.

He said that once the two B737-800Fs are in place, the carrier would then examine long-haul freighters.

On the reasoning behind the freighter investments, Murianki said that during the Covid crisis the airline had expanded its cargo operations using its passenger aircraft.

“We developed a customer base during the Covid time that is yearning for more, especially to the Middle East and India,” he said.

Speaking at a conference session later in the day, Kenya Airways 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 said the operation had “proved the case” for long-haul cargo flights. He added that outbound volumes during the cargo-only operation had been much stronger than inbound, but there could be an opportunity to use the airline’s home base of Nairobi as an import hub for the rest of Africa.

Freighters – compared with bellyhold operations – would also allow the carrier to operate long-haul flights to airports where the passenger demand isn’t strong enough to justify the use of larger aircraft, he added.

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Damian Brett

Damian Brett
I have been writing about the freight and logistics industry since 2007 when I joined International Freighting Weekly to cover the shipping sector.After a stint in PR, I have gone on to work for Containerisation International and Lloyds List - where I was editor of container shipping - before joining Air Cargo News in 2015.Contact me on [email protected]