Kenya Airways signs lease, cargo codeshare pacts with Congo Airways

Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways PLC has entered a partnership with Congo Airways just as the East African carrier equally signed an aircraft lease agreement with Congo Airways.

The two airlines have begun a cargo codeshare partnership. 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 today 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.

Kenya Airways

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 Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, 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, which will contribute to Africa’s socio-economic development.

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According to him, “Kenya Airways 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. The timing of this agreement is correct, considering the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry, as it will increase the utilisation of our aircraft.”

Speaking about the newly launched cargo direct flights between Johannesburg and Lubumbashi, he added, “Cargo has provided new opportunities in the face of the pandemic, and we are keen to continue building our operations and leveraging partnerships.”

“The enhanced network is built around Kenya Airways’ southern Africa operations in Johannesburg and is expected to provide further connections to additional points within the DRC and Africa. This will provide customers with more convenient schedules and capacity at a time when the global industry has suffered capacity shortfall due to the pandemic as well as improve the profitability of KQ’s regional freighters on the return sector from Johannesburg”, he added.

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Congo Airways’ CEO Pascal Kasongo Mwema Mwenda said increased air connectivity would offer more choices to passengers in the DRC and between the two countries, stressing that It would 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.

Kenya is seeking to leverage the DRC market by diversifying its export destinations, given the COVID 19 induced disruption, which has highlighted the need for deeper inter-regional trade.

Strengthened bilateral between the two countries will boost the National Carrier and Congo Airways passenger and cargo transport businesses between the two markets and the international network.

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Kenya Airways currently operates an Embraer maintenance service center – through its Technical Department – having flown the Embraer jets since 2008.

Congo Airways

Its Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) have 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) estimated that African airlines saw a combined loss of $2 billion due to reduced passenger travel in 2020.

Kenya Airways continues to diversify its services and operations in response to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the aviation sector.

Wole Shadare