Kenya Airways (KQ) has resumed direct cargo flights between Nairobi and New Delhi as the airline enhances freight business in the wake of reduced demand for passenger travel.
The first flight from Indira Gandhi International Airport arrived in the country yesterday morning carrying pharmaceutical products, machinery and general merchandise among other items.
The flight, coming barely six months after KQ resumed international flights following the relaxation of travel restrictions by states across the world, will be once per week.
“Starting this month, KQ Cargo has resumed direct freighter flights between Nairobi and New Delhi. We are pleased to see your cargo moving once per week from India to Africa,” said KQ on its twitter page yesterday.
The airline will mainly carry fresh fruits and flowers, meat products including tropical fish as well as tea to New Delhi, returning with general merchandise, organic chemicals, and electronic equipment, among other items.
Indira Gandhi international Airport is considered a competitive freight hub in Asia and provides opportunities to KQ to grow its cargo business.
The introduction of freight flights by KQ comes barely a few weeks after the aviation regulator approved Kenya Airways' request to convert some of its large passenger aircraft into freighters.
The move by KCAA to approve the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for cargo use came just weeks after the US-based Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave KQ a greenlight for the same.
This will see KQ increase the available capacity at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by over 100 tonnes, coming as a boost to exporters, especially horticulture farmers.
During the lockdown, the airline converted some of its Boeing 787 aircraft into freighters. However, they did not remove seats to accommodate more freight. The move could only see the carrier ferry close to 50 percent of goods.
Cargo accounted for Sh8.6 billion or 6.7 percent of its Sh128.3 billion sales in the year to December.
This comes as a boost to the airline that is currently struggling with low passenger numbers caused by Covid-19. Passengers are core to KQ business.