Daniel Maundu, the airlines' new country manager for the UAE, said traffic to Dubai is poised for a further growth given that the carrier's Nairobi hub serves some 26 on-line destinations within Africa. "In five years, our frequency to Dubai has increased from three to 10 flights reflecting an average passenger traffic growth of 20 per cent per annum," he said at a function marking the launch of a new cargo division fully integrated into the airline's commercial department.
The announcement follows the recent acquisition of full ownership of its subsidiary, Kencargo Airlines International Limited-through buy-out of stakes held by two of its previous co-shareholders, Martinair and Royal Dutch carrier, KLM. Both Martinair and KLM had each held a 20 per cent stake in Kencargo. However, Kenya Airways will maintain strategic and commercial cooperation with both Martinair and KLM.
Maundu said the Kenyan national carrier would be launching operations to its 30th destination - Karachi- in September. "Given the potential for a major increase in traffic from the whole of Africa to the Gulf, starting operations to other Gulf countries, particularly Kuwait and Qatar are under study," he said.
Guy Mertens, head of Cargo, said the formation of Kenya Airways Cargo was part of the national carrier's corporate re-organisation strategy to meet the ever-changing demands of the global aviation industry.
He said Kenya Airways had taken delivery of the 6th Boeing 767 aircraft early May and that later this month it would take delivery of the first state-of-the-art Boeing 777 as part of the airline's fleet expansion and modernisation programme. "Our fleet expansion and modernisation programme will continue to enhance the cargo capacity needed to grow our cargo business into the future", Mertens said, adding that Kenya Airways cargo revenue had grown steadily by 47 per cent over the last three years.
He said that closer cooperation between the Kenya Airways commercial department and the new cargo division had proved fruitful leading to aircraft upgrades from Boeing 737 to Boeing 767 on major intra-African routes such as Lusaka, Lilongwe, Harare and Kinshasa. "Our customers have indeed, acknowledged this trend and our cargo results are in line with our expectations", Fraser said.
Anjan Sarkar, regional manager, Kenya Airways Cargo, for the Middle East and Asia, said the increased cargo capacity from Boeing 777 would enhance the airline's capability to operate freighter services for feeding and de-feeding through Nairobi and strengthen Nairobi as the preferred cargo hub in Africa to the Gulf.
Sarkar said cargo traffic to the Gulf sector has grown by 62 per cent in one year underlining the growing trade ties between Kenya and the Gulf region. "With the acquisition of new Boeing 777s, we are prepared to keep pace with the growth momentum," he said.
Mertens said that apart form the current weekly flights between Nairobi and Mwanza, the management of the new Cargo division would seek ways of increasing capacity utilisation of the Boeing 737-200 QC freighter by exploring the viability to the regional destinations such as Kigali, Bujumbura and Zanzibar.
"Apart form increasing cargo capacity for our customers, we have invested in full cargo automation by linking our Rapid Cargo accounting system with a new cargo operations system known as e-Champ, which will be operational in September said Mertens.
He said that from this September, Kenya Airways Cargo customers would be able to trace and track their shipments on the national carrier's network by logging onto Kenya Airways Cargo Web site at kenya-airways. com.
Mertens said that as part of the customer service care programme, the new Kenya Airways Cargo and the Kenya Airways Ground Operations were working together to further enhance training of all staff, specifically in areas of handling perishables, live animals and other special cargo by September 2004.