Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways PLC (KQ), has signed an aircraft lease agreement and begun operating a cargo codeshare partnership with Congo Airways.
The agreement will see Kenya Airways lease two Embraer E190 jets to Congo Airways, boosting domestic operations and flight frequencies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In addition, Kenya Airways has today commenced direct cargo flights from Johannesburg to Lubumbashi.
Kenya Airways will also offer courses through its Pride Centre and explore the exchange of technical personnel in various areas to ensure skills transfer between the two airlines.
The partnership strengthens collaboration and bolsters aviation ties between Kenya and the DRC, actualising the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Kenya Airways and Congo Airways signed in April 2021 in Kinshasa and witnessed by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi.
First of many steps
Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO Allan Kilavuka hailed the partnership as the first of many steps in actualising Pan Africanism by creating a model for cooperation between two African Airlines, which will contribute to Africa’s socio-economic development.
“KQ is a key player in the aviation space in Africa, and with over 40 years of experience, this is an important step in enhancing cooperation to increase air connectivity and offer greater passenger and cargo options between the two countries. The timing of this agreement is correct, considering the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry, as it will increase the utilisation of our aircraft.”
Speaking about the newly launched cargo direct flights between Johannesburg and Lubumbashi, he added, “Cargo has provided new opportunities in the face of the pandemic, and we are keen to continue building our operations and leveraging partnerships.” The enhanced network is built around KQ’s southern Africa operations in Johannesburg and is expected to provide further connections to additional points within the DRC and Africa. This will provide customers with more convenient schedules and capacity at a time when the global industry has suffered capacity shortfall due to the pandemic as well as improve profitability of KQ’s regional freighters on the return sector from Johannesburg”, he added.
Leverage the DRC market
Kenya is seeking to leverage the DRC market by diversifying its export destinations, given the COVID 19 induced disruption, which has highlighted the need for deeper inter-regional trade.
Strengthened bilateral between the two countries will boost the National Carrier and Congo Airways passenger and cargo transport businesses between the two markets and the international network.
KQ currently operates an Embraer maintenance service centre – through its Technical Department – having flown the Embraer jets since 2008. Its Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) has two state-of-the-art hangers, mechanical and avionics workshops, and extensive warehousing capable of handling line and base maintenance of several aircraft models, including B737s E-Jets, and B787.
The International Air Transport Associations (IATA) estimates that African airlines saw a combined loss of $2 billion USD due to reduced passenger travel in 2020. Kenya Airways continues to diversify its services and operations in response to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the aviation sector.