KENYA Airways has stepped up its cargo business by launching its first fully owned freighter to meet growing demand for the service in Eastern, Southern and Central Africa.
KQ yesterday received the plane a Boeing 737-300 previously a passenger jet but converted into a cargo aircraft. With the new cargo plane the airline said it is targeting to move 160 tonnes of cargo within the next one year from the current volume of between 60 and 65 tonnes.
"We have had constraints with cargo capacity but we were not sure if it was viable to have our own cargo plane until now because cargo business, if you look at the turnover it accounted for Sh9 billion," said KQ managing director Titus Naikuni.
"So now we are in a position where we feel that cargo business can stand on its own without depending on passenger business."
The new plane will be fly to destinations like Luanda, Antananarivo, Ndjamena, Bangui, Kinshasa, Kigali, Bujumbura, Entebbe, Doula and Yaounde. KQ said the high demand in these areas made it impossible to keep cargo business constrain cargo to passenger planes.
KQ has prior to the launch of its own cargo plane also been operating another freighter jet owned by dutch firm Martinair under a deal in which the national carrier would sell space in the freighter jet to importers and exporters of goods on the Nairobi-Lagos, Guangzhou route.
The new cargo plane is the first among four that were earmarked for conversion from passenger to cargo that has been completed and in use. The second one is expected to be delivered in July.
Export Promotion Council chairman Hudson Aluvanze said the cargo plane which focuses on regional routes will increase exports to one of Kenya's best markets; Eastern Africa which accounted for 23 per cent of total exports in 2011.