April 17, 2020: Kenya Airways (KQ) dispatched a cargo flight using B787 Dreamliner passenger aircraft from Nairobi to London loaded with 40 tonnes of fresh produce.

The airline said in a statement, "It's our privilege to support the transportation of much-needed cargo and respective economic value chains. This is part of the innovative initiatives we have embarked on by converting four wide-body passenger aircraft to fit our cargo operations in order to reduce the impact of Covid-19 on operations."

The move is a huge relief for the horticulture sector, which suffered massive losses due to a lack of access to its key markets after the pandemic shut down global travel.

The national airline not operating flights for carrying essentials has been deliberated during a webinar on April 9 by Logistics Update Africa on %u2018Delivering cargo in the times of continental contagion: From essential supplies to critical medicines'. The panelists highlighted the reduction in capacity from 5,000 tonnes to 1,300 tonnes since KQ along with other carriers ceased to fly.

On April 12, the airline carried medical supplies and essential goods from Nairobi to Johannesburg using B787-8.

Recently, the airline has been hit hard by the decision of the country government who signed a deal with Ethiopian Airlines to operate passenger planes for shipment of cargo between the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Nairobi to Europe and Asia. The deal allows Ethiopian Airlines to fly cargo using six of its passenger planes from Mombasa to Nairobi and Asia and Europe, posing a threat to the Kenya Airways (KQ) cargo business. Ethiopian Airlines is expected to ship fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers and meat which are currently scarce in Europe.

KQ's CEO Allan Kivaluka stated that the carrier was not consulted on the impact that the Ethiopian Airlines deal would have on its business.

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