KQ leases two planes to Congo as post Covid-19 recovery pact
Kenya Airways (KQ) has signed an aircraft lease agreement with a Congolese airline. The two aircraft began operating a cargo codeshare partnership with Congo Airways.
The agreement will see Kenya Airways lease two Embraer E190 jets to Congo Airways to boost domestic operations and flight frequencies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This is as Kenya seeks to leverage the DRC market by diversifying its export destinations. The Covid-19 induced disruption has highlighted the need for deeper inter-regional trade.
Kenya Airways will also offer training to Congolese aviation officials 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 signed between Kenya Airways and Congo Airways in April 2021 in Kinshasa.
The deal was witnessed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his DRC counterpart Felix Tshisekedi.
Kenya Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka hailed the partnership as the first of many steps in actualising the Pan African aviation dream by creating a model for cooperation between two African Airlines, which will contribute to Africa's socio-economic development.
"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,” Kilavuka said.
The national carrier on Monday commenced direct cargo flights from Johannesburg to Lubumbashi.
“The enhanced network is built around KQ’s southern Africa operations in Johannesburg and is expected to provide further connections to additional points within the DRC and Africa,” Kilavuka said.
"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."
Congo Airways’ Chief Executive Pascal Kasongo said increased air connectivity will provide better linkage 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.
The International Air Transport Associations (IATA) estimates that African airlines saw a combined loss of $2 billion (Sh220 billion) due to reduced passenger travel in 2020.