Kenya Airways, the country’s public-private partnership national flag carrier, announced on Thursday that it was starting direct cargo flights from the country’s main port (and number two) city of Mombasa to international destinations. The airline’s freight operation is known as KQ Cargo, KQ being the airline’s International Air Transport Association code.
The introduction of this service followed discussions between the airline, the Mombasa County government (Kenya is divided into counties, not provinces) and coastal region fresh produce sector stakeholders. The aim is to transport the region’s fresh produce exports more rapidly and efficiently.
Kenya Airways has started these operations with one cargo flight a week from Mombasa to Sharjah International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. The main freight being carried on these flights is tropical fish and seafood. Each flight will, on average, transport some 18.75 t of fresh fish and seafood.
“KQ Cargo will work closely with fish and seafood farmers to maximise on-the-same-day perishables supply chain to cater for the customers in the Middle East region,” said Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka, addressing the producers. “Our familiarity in same day cargo logistics and working closely with commercial fishing and small producers provides us [with] the knowledge to treat your seafood with the utmost care as it heads to its destination.”
“Air cargo continues to be more important than ever, and more so during this pandemic where businesses have been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic,” stressed Mombasa County Governor Ali Hassan Joho. “KQ’s decision to operate cargo flights direct from Mombasa is vital for economic recovery and an indicator of the importance of cargo activities at our airport.”
As demand for fresh produce from the coastal region increases, so the airline will add additional flights to more destinations. Over the past six months KQ Cargo has operated about 700 freight-only flights carrying a wide range of goods. These included some 10 000 t of fresh fruit and vegetables.