Kenya Airways will on Thursday receive its first cargo plane to tap into the growing trade volumes in Africa and strengthen its freight business. 

The Boeing B737-300 is the first of the four passenger aircraft, owned by the airline, which were identified for conversion into freighters by the airline in October 2012.

The airline’s cargo business declined in both tonnage and capacity by 10.7 per cent in the third quarter to December 2012 compared to the same period the prior year.

KQ plans to increase its cargo fleet to 12 in the next decade, heightening competition in a continent when carriers like Ethiopian Airways, Egypt Air, and South African Airways have introduced their own freighters.

The aircraft are expected to help the airline capitalise on cargo business on some of the regional routes where it operates the much smaller Embraer jets which have less cargo capacity.

KQ carries cargo in passenger planes, denying it a larger share of the growing cargo trade segment whose revenues accounted for 8.2 per cent of the airline’s business in the last financial year.

In February 2012, the airline in partnership with KLM and Martin Air launched a Boeing 747-400 freighter, dubbed Safari Connection, focusing on moving cargo between China and West Africa through Nairobi.


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