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Kenya Airways Boosts Fleet Capacity with Hi Fly ACMI Lease

The airline is looking to capture a surge in demand following recent changes in Kenya's visa policies.

A Hi Fly A330 (Photo: Shutterstock)

Kenya Airways (KQ), the national carrier of Kenya, has inked a short-term lease agreement with Hi Fly, the Lisbon-based lease and charter specialist company. The lease will involve the immediate introduction of an Airbus A330 into the Kenya Airways fleet. This partnership was announced by the airline in a press release on December 20 and will address capacity constraints and support the anticipated surge in traveler demands during the festive season.

How the Airbus A330 Addresses Traveler Surge

Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and CEO, Allan Kilavuka, emphasized the need for practical measures to tackle challenges in the market. “With the current capacity constraints on the back of the growing demand for airline travel, we need to balance our customers’ immediate needs by bringing more capacity into the market,” stated Kilavuka.

The move comes in response to the rising demand for air travel, compounded by President William Ruto’s recent announcement of ending visa requirements for all visitors to Kenya starting January 2024, effectively making Kenya a visa-free country. Kilavuka highlighted that the ACMI lease with Hi Fly allows the airline to quickly address capacity challenges, ensuring an aircraft that is ready to fly.

“With the arrival of the aircraft, we expect to see improved operational stability and efficiency, as well as enhanced capacity for the convenience of our passengers,” added Kilavuka.

The leased widebody A330 boasts a passenger capacity of 299, with 24 seats in the business cabin and 275 in the economy class. Its introduction into the fleet not only addresses immediate capacity needs but also augments cargo space with additional belly capacity and will join KQ’s fleet currently comprising of 32 aircraft with an average fleet age of 11.6 years, according to planespotters.net.

Hi Fly has a fleet size of 13 aircraft with an average fleet age of 19.2 years. The airline operates an all-Airbus fleet comprising A320, A330, and A340, specializing in wet lease services to airlines and governments. The airline offers flexibility from medium-haul to very long-haul flights, with a range of aircraft configurations suitable for passengers and cargo.

Cargo Expansion: Kenya Airways’ Growth Plans with the 737-800 Freighter

In other news, Kenya Airways is set to launch its newly acquired B737-800 freighter on the Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta-Sharjah-Mumbai International-Nairobi route, with the inaugural flight scheduled for Jan. 15, 2024. The announcement was made by Peter Musola, the Commercial Director (Cargo) of Kenya Airways, during the India International Cargo Show (IICS) 2023 in Mumbai last Thursday (Dec 14, 2023).

Recognizing India as a promising market for cargo, the airline plans to initially operate the route twice a week, later expanding it to four times weekly. Mumbai, a key gateway to the country, will serve as a focal point for Kenya Airways to saturate the cargo market, transporting a diverse range of goods, including pharmaceuticals, spare parts, machinery, high-tech products, consumer goods, and electronics.

Speaking at the India International Cargo Show, Musola highlighted the strategic importance of Mumbai International Airport as Kenya Airways’ entry point to India. He emphasized the airline’s intention to first focus on growing the belly capacity segment in Mumbai before exploring opportunities to fly to new Indian destinations. The new aircraft will offer 20 tonnes of cargo capacity to and from its Nairobi hub. Kenya Airways already operates twice-daily passenger service to Mumbai with its Boeing 737-800 aircraft with a belly capacity of one ton.

Musola also noted that, “The products include pharmaceuticals, spare parts, machinery, high tech, consumer goods and electronics. India is a strong manufacturing country and it is becoming a manufacturing giant. Most of these products are in demand in Africa and we want to leverage this as an airline.” He also pointed out that 20 percent of all pharmaceuticals manufactured in India end up in Africa. “So Kenya Airways is looking into tapping these opportunities,” he said.

“We are all set to launch our freighter Boeing 737-800 in Mumbai on January 25 to cater to Pharma market. We also have plans to expand our network and destinations, in India, but we are starting operations with Mumbai. India is a Pharma hub and we see lot of potential in Indian market. India is a great trade destination and lot of Pharma is being moved to and from Africa, with our hub in Nairobi. Kenya Airways is looking at enhancing regional connectivity and capacity but due to global economic slowdown and crises in Africa, things are not in our favour at the moment as there are lots of complexities. But we are very focused and we look at India as a major market and have growth prospects for our main Nairobi Hub so we will definitely expand here,” Musola added.

According to reports, the airline recently took delivery of its first 737-800 converted freighter on Nov. 23, 2023, and is set to add another in February 2024. This expansion will bring the total freighter fleet to four aircraft, complementing the two existing 737-300(SF) fleet.

Victor Shalton

Author

  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

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