KQ opts for Cargo Flights to Compensate low Passenger Numbers

By: Sumaya Hussein (

Thumbnail photo courtesy of LogUpdate Africa

Kenya Airways (KQ) is reducing its dependence on passenger flights and turning to more cargo flights to stay afloat.

On Tuesday, the airline said it had agreed with Avianor to collectively repurpose its aircraft cabins into cargo transportation on the Boeing 787. This joint effort is in response to the growing demand and need for increased cargo capacity.

The repurposing began in December 2020 and was completed in January 2021. This is the first-ever cargo repurpose of this type to be performed on the Boeing 787 globally. The repurposed cabin has been certified to carry up to 16 tonnes of cargo, potentially enabling the aircraft to reach its maximum payload while in cargo operation of 46 tonnes.

Kenya Airways Cargo plane at the airport. Photo courtesy of The East African.

KQ CEO, Allan Kilavuka said the airline is prepared to respond to the outgoing demand for essential and medical goods and support future commercial opportunities for the local and regional economies. “We are excited to be part of the first-ever certified cargo conversion of this type on the Boeing 787 aircraft”, Kilavuka said.

Kenya Airways has received airworthiness approval from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCCA) and Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for the repurposed aircraft. “This represents a unique design and certification challenge and we are thrilled to demonstrate once again, our ability to find unprecedented solutions to customer needs,” Avianor President Matthieu Duhaime said.

The move to cargo flights follows a big drop in the number of international travellers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, that saw the airline plunged into losses. KQ net loss for the six months ended June 2020 widened by 67.3% to Sh14.33 billion due to the disruptions that led to the grounding of flights. The crisis hit the global aviation industry hard, with African airlines alone expected to lose $6 billion this year in revenue. KQ had estimated the virus will cut its revenue by almost Sh100 billion.

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