KENYA AIRWAYS PREPARES FOR DELIVERY OF FIRST CONVERTED B737-300 FREIGHTER
Slightly later than initially expected will Kenya Airways receive the first of eventually four converted B737-300 cargo aircraft, which have been selected from their passenger fleet and which will be undergoing this transformation at a facility in China. With the arrival of more Embraer E190 jets is Kenya Airways now able to progressively phase out the ageing B737-300 models still in service and replace them with the more cost effective Embraer’s and, in due course, with new B737-800’s, which are larger than the old -300 type.
Kenya Airways had for a prolonged period of time scouted the global aircraft market in search of suitable narrow body cargo aircraft, but when the exercise did not yield acceptable results eventually decided last year to rather use their own aircraft due to leave the fleet to make place for newer jets, and convert those to create a fleet of dedicated cargo aircraft. Already operating a code shared B747- 400 freighter with KLM, which regularly flies a triangular service between Nairobi, Amsterdam and China, the new B737-300F will allow to distribute cargo into the wider Eastern African region but also beyond, and collect palleted cargo to be transshipped in Nairobi where one of Africa’s largest cargo centres has been established over the past decade.
‘Cargo uplift has been declining over the past months but the airline is confident that medium term an own cargo fleet is the only way forward. Using just the underfloor space on wide body passenger aircraft is not enough. For that reason the B747 was leased but the key is in using an aircraft type which allows for pallets but is also not too big. There is a lot of cargo in the region which needs collecting. There is a lot of cargo coming into Nairobi which has to go into the region. For now, palleted services are expensive for lack of suitable aircraft but when the new freighter arrives, this makes it a bit easier. Kenya Airways has in their strategic plan outlined that they want to have a dozen cargo aircraft on their fleet by 2022. They are aware of what Ethiopian and Egypt Air are doing with their cargo aircraft and know that they either go into that business full scale or otherwise leave it to others. Kenya Airways does not leave business opportunities to others however, we all know that from how they went back into the domestic Kenyan market in 2010. When the first converted B737-300 comes back the next one will leave passenger service until all four are converted but just wait for announcements’ said a regular airline source close to The Pride of Africa over the weekend when discussing the imminent arrival of the aircraft.
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