By Victor Shalton
Kenya Airways Leases Embraer Aircraft to Congo Airways, Leverages On New Partnership
Kenya Airways and Congo Airways entered into an aircraft leasing agreement that saw Congo Airways begin wet-leasing two Embraer E190 from Kenya Airways on September 15, 2021, actualizing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Kenya Airways and Congo Airways originally signed on April 2021 in Kinshasa, Congo which was witnessed by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi.
According to CH-Aviation, 5Y-FFM and 5Y-FFL, both Embraer E190 aircraft, were ferried from Nairobi to Kinshasa on September 15 and 16, respectively, and are expected to boost domestic operations and flight frequencies in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The two aircraft mark the beginning of E190 service at Congo Airways and joins a current fleet of two Dehavilland 8-Q400s and two Airbus A320-200s.
Congo Airways also has two E190-E2s and two E195-E2s on firm order from Embraer. The E190-E1s are scheduled to be delivered in December 2021 and May 2022, while the larger units will deliver in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Congo Airways’ CEO Pascal Kasongo Mwema Mwenda said, “Increased air connectivity will offer more choices to passengers in the DRC and between the two countries. It will also provide better connectivity to international destinations, enabling both countries to fly to a better future and build a resilient aviation industry that can stand the test of time.”
“The Government has reduced fares on domestic routes. The demand became high and Congo Airways needs more capacity,” Director (Cooperation and Cargo) Norbert Sengamali Lukukwa speaking to media outlet ch-aviation.
Part of the strategic partnership between the two carriers, Kenya Airways will offer courses through its Pride Centre and explore the exchange of technical personnel in various areas to ensure skills transfer between the two airlines.
Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO Allan Kilavuka hailed the partnership as the first of many steps in actualizing Pan Africanism by creating a model for cooperation between two African Airlines, which will contribute to Africa’s socioeconomic development.
“KQ is a key player in the aviation space in Africa, and with over 40 years of experience, this is an important step in enhancing cooperation to increase air connectivity and offer greater passenger and cargo options between the two countries,” said CEO Allan Kilavuka.
“The timing of this agreement is correct, considering the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry, as it will increase the utilisation of our aircraft,” he added.
Besides the lease agreements, Kenya Airways commenced direct cargo flights from Johannesburg to Lubumbashi in the DRC.
Speaking about the newly launched cargo direct flights between Johannesburg and Lubumbashi, Kilavuka added that, “Cargo has provided new opportunities in the face of the pandemic, and we are keen to continue building our operations and leveraging partnerships.”
“The enhanced network is built around KQ’s southern Africa operations in Johannesburg and is expected to provide further connections to additional points within the DRC and Africa. This will provide customers with more convenient schedules and capacity at a time when the global industry has suffered capacity shortfall due to the pandemic as well as improve profitability of KQ’s regional freighters on the return sector from Johannesburg,” he explained.
The two airlines will also codeshare on Kenya Airways’ cargo network.