The Boeing B737-300 is the first of four passenger aircraft owned by the airline which were identified for conversion into freighters in October 2012.
The converted freighter will operate in Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa with the planned destinations being Juba, Luanda, Bangui, Douala, Yaoundé, Kigali, Entebbe, Dar-es-Salaam, Kinshasa and Bujumbura.
The introduction of the new freighter jet is set to help the airline capitalise on the cargo business as it seeks to contain the surge in demand for cargo services in some of the regional routes where it operates the much smaller Embraer jets which have less cargo capacity.
“We are excited to take delivery of this new freighter jet, which will be a perfect addition to our cargo fleet. This freighter jet will go a long way into giving us a larger share of the growing cargo trade segment across the regions we operate in as well as increase revenue from cargo services which has a significant impact in our business.” Kenya Airways CEO, Titus Naikuni, said.
Under its 10-Year Growth Plan, Kenya Airways plans to have 12 freighters in its fleet by 2022.
The converted freighter is also expected to present value addition through expansion of flows from China to other Africa points.
The conversion involved extensive structural work that included strengthening the floor, frames, door cut-out and installation of a new cargo door and surround to withstand heavier cargo loads and accommodate large freight pallets and containers.
Aircraft mechanical and electrical systems was also be modified to suit the aircraft’s new mission as a freighter.