Kenya Airways is expanding its cargo freight services in Africa to tap into under served markets like Rwanda.
Exporters have complained that “the passenger planes they use from Kigali International Airport have limited cargo space restricting volumes for export."
KQ plans to introduce to its cargo fleet four freighters which were taken for converting into cargo planes in October last year.
The first of these aircraft is already in operation and the second is expected back this month. With 41 passenger aircraft, 10 of them that fly long routes, experts say the airline is poised to become a game changer in the region.
It is hoped a reliable cargo freighter dedicated to Kigali Airport will increase efficiency, boost the quality of horticulture products from Rwanda and, in the long run, bring down freight costs.
“We have come to inform Rwandans that there is a service to move their goods beyond East Africa. Rwanda is a landlocked country and imports through the port of Mombasa take a long time to reach here. Kenya Airways Cargo is here to offer new solutions from Mombasa to Kigali,” said Luke Arrum, Kenya Airways Cargo Manager.
Besides KQ, Kigali is served by KLM, Air Uganda, South African Airways, RwandAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Brussels Airways, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways, which have large cargo space.
But aviation experts believe that strengthening its cargo division has been informed by the losses the airline is incurring due to dwindling passenger revenues and high operational costs.
The airline issued a profit warning for the full year ending March 2013 as it reported a net loss of Ksh4.8 billion ($56.4 million) in the six months to September on the back of surging costs and lower revenue.
A profit warning, as per the Capital Markets Authority regulations in Kenya is issued if a company projects its profits would fall by at least 25 per cent.
Despite the losses, the airline has made remarkable progress in positioning the cargo division business in the aviation industry.
KQ Cargo has won the Air Cargo News Global Service Award largely for growing the cargo business worldwide and the ability to contain the surge in demand for cargo services in some of the regional routes.
The airline was voted by readers of Air Cargo News, a major publication dedicated to all issues pertaining to cargo shipments by air in May this year.