Kenya Airways has moved into a market gap left by stricken South African Airways by operating direct freighter services out of SAA’s hub in Johannesburg O.R. Tambo to Southern African destinations. Previously, all Kenya Airways traffic departing from Johannesburg had to pass through the Kenyan flag carrier’s Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta hub.
The airline said in a statement that it planned to operate directly from Johannesburg to Maputo, Harare Int'l, Lilongwe, Lusaka, and Dar es Salaam. According to the cargo flight schedule published on its website, the first freighter flight, KQ2775, from Johannesburg departed for Lusaka and onto Lilongwe on November 25. Another cargo flight, KQ2742, routed from Johannesburg to Maputo back to Nairobi on November 26.
“Our customers truck seafood and vegetables from Mombasa and Malindi to Nairobi, taking up to 12 hours to come and connect out of Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta for freight that should only take four-to-five hours to the UAE. So we thought, why not take our aircraft directly to the coast to uplift the cargo,” explained Dick Murianki, Director of Kenya Airways Cargo in a video statement on social media. “We want to be a bridge between our coastal region and the UAE and other regions. We’re not limiting ourselves to the UAE. We are not anchored in Nairobi. Yes, it is our main hub, but we want to grow our (cargo) business. We mean business in Southern Africa and we mean business in cargo,” he said.
Kenya Airways said the direct services from Johannesburg enabled it to provide shorter and direct flights to and from Southern African locations from Africa’s largest manufacturing economy.
Murianki said the carrier had strategically increased its focus on cargo operations in order to generate more income from freight during the past months of the COVID-19 crisis. “Kenya Airways has been implementing different strategies to boost its revenues and retain a competitive edge in the market, all geared towards a turnaround of the business,” he said.