Kenya Airways has been granted approval to convert some of its Boeing 787s from Kenya’s Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).This will allow the airline to fully utilize its fleet of nine Dreamliners as one-third of these widebody jets are currently listed as inactive.
Business Daily Africa reports that the KCAA has approved Kenya Airways’ request to convert some of its widebody 787-8s into freighters. The recent approval comes weeks after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also granted the airline’s request.
“We have approved Kenya Airways request of turning the Dreamliner into a freighter and they can use it world-wide for cargo purposes,” -Gilbert Kibe, KCAA Director General said.
Kibe added the KCAA had approved just one aircraft as it was all that the airline had requested. With plans to convert two Dreamliners, another 787 will be approved later on, once the airline submits the application for it.
At the height of travel restrictions, Kenya Airways was also using its 787s and their passenger cabins for cargo transportation. However, this was conducted without removing seats, severely limiting capacity as well as loading and unloading time.
The airline does have a tiny fleet of dedicated freighters in the form of two Boeing 737-300Fs. These joined the fleet in March and July of 2013. Of course, due to the fact that they are just 737s, they can only be used within the region and cannot be used for longer-distance operations.
While this won’t be a full, permanent conversion, it will involve the removal of seats. Airlines around the world have been doing this, with Air Canada being among the first to remove seats and install nets and place floor-markings on the main passenger deck of a Boeing 777.
The move by Kenya Airways is expected to support the national economy by boosting export capabilities– particularly the nation’s agricultural sector, which includes fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
After operating just 60 flights in April 2020 (all aircraft types), the airline has steadily recovered and made 1,449 flights in January 2021 – although this is still down from the 3,887 flights made in January 2020.