, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 22 – Kenya Airways and KLM have jointly launched the first direct freighter service between China and Africa.
KQ’s Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni said cargo revenues are expected to grow from nine to 15 percent by the end of the year and that the airline expects to widen its cargo routes by adding Lagos by the end of May this year.
“We’re looking at May to start the Lagos route for cargo. We will bring in another two 737-400’s hopefully by mid this year, as the business grows. We will then start thinking of expanding the fleet with more Boeing 747- 400’s,” Naikuni said.
Dubbed “Safari Connection” it is the first for the cargo arm of the airline.
KQ’s Head of Cargo Sauda Rajab added there will be positive cost implications with the new freighter towards the company’s annual revenues.
“We have never had an additional cost. We used to ride on the airline that was flying to any country and this was based on the amount of space that was free. At least now with the freighter, cost implications come in, us loading cargo onto the freighter means that we are getting a lot more space and we can now handle the demand,” Rajab said.
The cargo freighter has a capacity to carry 120 tonnes which is over five times the belly capacity of the Boeing 777, the largest aircraft in the airline’s fleet.
The wide-body cargo freighter will operate the Amsterdam-Guangzhou-Nairobi-Lagos-Nairobi-Amsterdam circuit. The aircraft will make stopovers in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates on its way from Guangzhou to Nairobi.
Kenya Airways plans to introduce 12 freighters into its growing fleet over 10 years, some wholly owned and others leased. This will improve the airline’s overall cargo carrying capability and reduce over-dependence on the passenger fleet whose belly capacity is limited.
The airline carried over 56,000 metric tonnes of cargo in 2010/11 and this is expected to grow following the launch of the freighter line.
KQ Cargo was launched in May 2004 that was part of the airline’s corporate re-organization strategy.