National carrier Kenya Airways PLC (KQ), has signed an aircraft lease agreement and begun operating a cargo codeshare partnership with Congo Airways.
The agreement will see Kenya Airways lease two Embraer E190 jets to Congo Airways, boosting domestic operations and flight frequencies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In addition, Kenya Airways has commenced direct cargo flights from Johannesburg to Lubumbashi.
Kenya Airways will also offer courses through its Pride Centre and explore the exchange of technical personnel in various areas to ensure skills transfer between the two airlines.
The partnership strengthens collaboration and bolsters aviation ties between Kenya and the DRC, actualising the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Kenya Airways and Congo Airways signed in April 2021 in Kinshasa and witnessed by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi.
Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO Allan Kilavuka hailed the partnership as the first of many steps in actualising Pan Africanism by creating a model for cooperation between two African Airlines.
“KQ is a key player in the aviation space in Africa, and with over 40 years of experience, this is an important step in enhancing cooperation to increase air connectivity and offer greater passenger and cargo options between the two countries,” said Kivaluka.
“Cargo has provided new opportunities in the face of the pandemic, and we are keen to continue building our operations and leveraging partnerships.”
Congo Airways’ CEO Pascal Kasongo Mwema Mwenda said that the deal will provide better connectivity to international destinations for the two countries.
“Increased air connectivity will offer more choices to passengers in the DRC and between the two countries. It will also provide better connectivity to international destinations, enabling both countries to fly to a better future and build a resilient aviation industry that can stand the test of time,” said Mwema.
Kenya is seeking to leverage the DRC market by diversifying its export destinations, given the COVID-19 induced disruption.
KQ currently operates an Embraer maintenance service centre – through its Technical Department – having flown the Embraer jets since 2008. Its Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) has two state-of-the-art hangers, mechanical and avionics workshops, and extensive warehousing capable of handling line and base maintenance of several aircraft models, including B737s E-Jets, and B787.
The International Air Transport Associations (IATA) estimates that African airlines saw a combined loss of USD2 billion due to reduced passenger travel in 2020.
KQ reported a net loss of Ksh11. 49 billion over the last six months to June 2021, an improvement from Ksh14.33 billion reported over a similar half in 2020.