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Oct 9-12, 2024

Kenya Airways' first cargo Boeing 737-800

Kenya Airways Doubles Freighters’ Capacity

Kenya Airways increased the size of its cargo fleet this quarter with the arrival of two Boeing 737-800 converted freighters from the United States to meet freight demand in Africa and the Middle East.

Each jet is roughly 25% larger than the airline’s previous freighters, which translates to a 150% capacity increase.

The new 737-800 aircraft
Kenya Airways 737-800
Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800. Photo by: Kenya Airways

The first 737-800 aircraft landed in mid-January, and the second is expected to be delivered to the airline’s Nairobi base in a few weeks. This is according to Robert Convey, senior sales and marketing vice president at Miami-based Aeronautical Engineers Inc. The company was in charge of converting the aircraft from a passenger airplane to a cargo one.

Kenya Airways acquired the aircraft on long-term leases from GA Telesis, a South Florida-based aerospace services and leasing company. GA Telesis, which began leasing freighters in 2021, stated that it purchased the aircraft last year and shipped it to AEI to install the modification package-which included a big cargo door.

GA Telesis received a dozen conversion slots from AEI and has used at least seven. Last year, it delivered two 737-800 cargo jets to Bluebird Nordic in Iceland.

Kenya Airways flies two (Boeing 737-300) converted freighters around Eastern Africa. The new 737-800, which arrived last month, started offering passenger services twenty-two years ago and was operated by Russian airlines.

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The 737-800s are meant for long-haul flights. Kenya Airways, in November, stated that the new freighters would be deployed in the following regions; the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Nigeria, Chad, Somalia, India, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

Kenya Airways hopes to double the number by April

According to Flightradar24, the first converted freighter had been flying between Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Zambia with stops in Somalia and India. Kenya Airways initiated weekly services between Saudi Arabia and Somalia on February 9th and is hoping to double the number by April. Sales and logistics support for the route was provided by GSA Cargo LLC.

In a press release, GSA Cargo CEO Kannan Nachiappan, stated as follows, “UAE, being a multimodal logistics hub, acts as a primary gateway to Africa, and having a dedicated Kenya Airways Cargo freighter to offer this service helps cut transit times and offer scheduled main deck capacity into several remote destinations across the region. This service would cover a market characterized by ‘narrow body and belly-only’ options, lengthy transit times, and expensive rates” The new aircraft flies for up to seven hours and has a cargo capacity of up to 26 tons, compared to the previous model (737-300).

Kenya Airways agreed that a new free trade deal among African states will likely increase demand for air transport of fresh produce, textiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and other items.

Africa accounts for 2% of the worldwide air freight sector, according to the International Air Transport Association. Middle Eastern carriers handle 13% of cargo travel. In 2023, demand in Africa fell 1.8% from the previous year but increased 6.7% from the 2019 baseline.

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