ADDIS ABABA – Kenya Airways Plc. Forced to increase its cargo capacity after its rival, Ethiopian Airlines, was allowed to deploy more freighters to help carry Kenyan flowers to Europe ahead of Valentine’s Day this weekend.
The Kenyan airline adapted a passenger Boeing 787 Dreamliner to start carrying cargo, and help meet more flower orders, reported Bloomberg news.
The conversion and increased flight frequencies will add as much as 40% capacity, the carrier’s Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka told the news agency.
The Kenyan government, which owns 49% of Kenya Airways, allowed the carrier’s competitor to deploy additional freighters on the Nairobi-Amsterdam route to ease capacity constraints.
Kenya is Europe’s biggest supplier of cut flowers, which are one of its biggest foreign-exchange earners.
“As long as we have fresh produce which needs to be airlifted, we will continue licensing even foreign aircraft because what is most important is to have aircraft carrying produce from here,” Kenyan Transport Secretary James Macharia said on Monday.
“It is secondary whether it is Kenya Airways or any other airline,” the secretary added.
The decision was made after Kenya Flower Council held with their government to resolve challenge with the freighters.
“We have talked to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and they have allowed Ethiopia to come in and provide much more capacity every week because Kenya Airways could not give us everything we needed,” said Clement Tulezi, CEO of the Council, according to Bloomberg’s report.