Kenya Airways makes history by converting Boeing Dreamliner into cargo aircraft

A Kenya Airways plane ready for boarding in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. /Photo Courtesy: Kenya Airways

Kenya Airways (KQ) and privately held aerospace company Avianor have made history with the first-ever cabin cargo repurposing of a Boeing 787 into a so-called “preighter”. A “preighter” is a passenger aircraft that has been converted to carry cargo.

The term, and the need for preighters, came about as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The joint project between Kenya Airways and Avianor will help meet the growing demand for increased cargo capacity as well as the demand for essential and medical goods while supporting future commercial opportunities thereby contributing to the stimulation of the local and regional economies.

It also demonstrates Kenya Airways and Avianor’s role as trailblazers in the aero industry.

KQ Group Managing Director and Chief Executive officer Allan Kilavuka said “KQ’s purpose is to contribute to the sustainable development of Africa.

“The preighter will enable us to bridge businesses and enhance connectivity. Kenya will export more goods to our partners across the globe and stimulate business for local suppliers.”

“It’s important to operate in the most competitive manner. I want to thank Kenya Airways and its partners. Together we can all continue to see greater recovery.” said the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty C. Maina.

While on his part, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said “We are proud of this achievement. This and other events point to the rebound of the aviation industry and are a testament to its ability to innovate in the face of one of the hardest challenges faced by humanity. This development is a bold step for Kenya Airways.”

Work on the repurposed cabin which began in late 2020 has been certified to carry up to 16 tonnes of cargo, potentially enabling the aircraft to reach its maximum payload while in cargo operation of 46 tonnes.

JKIA has a capacity of 1.2 million, including 9,000m² of cold room facilities, undoubtedly, the leading cargo hub in Africa, with the launch of the cargo preighter being timely as it enhances JKIA’s cargo capacity and ability to handle transshipments of Covid 19 vaccines, as well as fresh produce exporters who send their goods to the European market.

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