Kenya Airways (KQ) has started ferrying cargo directly between Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Somalia's capital Mogadishu, as it seeks to expand its cargo business.
The airline has launched a weekly flight effective Friday, February 9, with plans to increase to twice a week in April.
The national carrier has partnered with Dubai-based sales agent Global GSA Cargo LLC as its logistics partner to service the route.
“We are delighted to expand our world-class logistics service to underserved markets with a solid product, and we believe in having a direct service complemented by Dubai's trader, transit, humanitarian, and project-driven traffic,” KQ cargo director Dick Murianki said.
“The direct route between UAE and Somalia offers huge demand for air freight transportation, particularly high-tech consumer goods, automotive parts, project cargo, and clothing, which are the most frequently flown goods on the route,” he added.
Kenya Airways expanded its cargo freight fleet with a B737-800F plane last November, with plans to lease a second similar aircraft. The planes
have a higher cargo capacity and operate long-range flights compared to KQ's two B737-300F, which it has been using.
The 737-800F plane carries up to 23 tonnes of revenue payload, according to the manufacturer Boeing.
In 2020, KQ converted two of its B787 into cargo airlines following high demand for freight services amid a sharp decline in passenger services at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to Sharjah, the third-most populous city after Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the airline plans to deploy its cargo planes on destinations such as Dubai, Jeddah, Riyadh, Dakar, Lagos, N'Djamena, Mumbai, Freetown, and Monrovia.
Kannan Nachiappan, chief executive officer of Global GSA Cargo, said the direct UAE-Somalia flights would cut transit time and reduce costs.
“UAE, being a multimodal logistics hub, acts as a primary gateway to Africa, and having a dedicated KQ 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 characterised by narrow body belly-only options, lengthy transit times, and expensive rates,” he said.
Kenya Airways said it would also be resuming direct passenger flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu starting February 15, 2024.