Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways received a boost in its bid to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic after its lessors allowed it to convert two of its Dreamliner planes into cargo aircraft.
Kenya Airways chief executive officer Allan Kilavuka told media outlet, Business Daily, that the two aircraft should be converted by the end of the year.
“So far, two lessors have indicated a no objection to the conversion of the B787 Dreamliner aircraft to freighters for a two-year period,” Kilavuka said.
Kenya Airways currently has two freighters which cannot be used for long-range operations, like connecting Africa to Europe, due to the minimal distance that they can cover.
The airline has about 38 fleets at the moment with nine Dreamliners on its fleet which are mainly used for passenger services.
Kenya’s aviation sector, like the rest of Africa’s, had been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic with low demand for flights across the continent coupled with several cancellations and suspensions resulting in a huge drop in passenger revenue.
Due to the prevailing circumstances, Kenya Airways resorted to operating cargo and repatriation flights. It had banked on a rise in demand for freight to boost business during and after that period.
The airline converted some of its Boeing 787 aircraft into freighters. The carrier, however, was only able to operate at about 50 percent capacity as they did not remove seats to accommodate more cargo.
Despite the lifting of these restrictions in many countries, the recovery has been slow and remains at great risk because of a possible resurgence in cases as is being witnessed in Europe.