Kenya Airways is resuming flights to India after a months-long hiatus. The carrier has resumed its cargo service from Nairobi to New Delhi, a growing cargo hub in the region. The route comes as demand for cargo rises and Kenya Airways puts its converted 787 freighters into use.
Kenya Airways is starting new cargo routes in response to the falling demand for passenger flights and increased freight demand. According to ITLN, the carrier will operate the Delhi-Nairobi route once a week, carrying pharmaceuticals, machinery, electronic equipment, general merchandise, and more.
The route will be operated by Kenya Airways’ flagship Boeing 787-8. The airline recently received approval from regulators to remove seats from the aircraft to make more room for cargo. The conversion to a ‘preighter’ (passenger freighter) has significantly expanded the cargo-carrying ability of the plane. The modified cabin is certified to carry 16 tonnes of cargo in addition to the belly pallet storage.
Kenya Airways is hoping to use its India route to further increase cargo to other destinations in the region. In a statement, Allan Kilavuka, CEO and MD of Kenya Airways, said,
“The resumption of direct weekly cargo flights from Nairobi to New Delhi is an indication of the integral part KQ plays in providing logistics solutions to our customers based on our robust world-class handling infrastructure and strong network footprint in Africa. KQ Cargo will continue to offer seamless connections in India to Nairobi, and the rest of Africa, including destinations such as Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; and Lilongwe, Malawi.”
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The recently converted 787s will be optimal for carrying COVID-19 vaccines once they become available. Kenya Airways hopes to take the lead for vaccine transport for its home country and the rest of Africa. Kenya has ordered 24 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which does not require ultra-cold-storge, allowing for much easier transportation in the 787.
Additionally, India is a major vaccine producer and plans to produce hundreds of millions of the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot this year alone. The contract with the Serum Institute of India (based in Pune) will means direct flights from India will be key to having a speedy vaccine rollout across the region.
Considering the large quantities of vaccines that will be moved in the coming months, the mission could be an extremely lucrative one for airlines.
Yesterday, Kenya recertified the Boeing 737 MAX to fly in its airspace once again. Considering no Kenyan Airline operates the MAX, the move is mainly to allow surrounding airlines to fly over Kenyan airspace once again. However, the recertification could allow Kenya Airways to possibly consider an order for the 737 MAX as it was mulling in 2019 before the crashes.
What do you think about rising cargo demand and its impact on airlines? Will there be too many freighters soon? Let us know in the comments!