Kenya Airways has entered a codeshare partnership with Congo Airways, just as the carrier signed an aircraft lease agreement with its new partner. The agreement will see Kenya Airways lease two Embraer E190s to Congo Airways, boosting domestic operations and flight frequencies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In addition, Kenya Airways on Monday commenced direct cargo flights from Johannesburg to Lubumbashi. Kenya and Congo Airways bolster aviation ties.

Kenya Airways will also offer courses through its Pride Centre and explore the exchange of technical personnel in various areas to ensure skills transfer between the two airlines.

The partnership strengthens collaboration and bolsters aviation ties between Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, actualizing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between its two airlines signed in April in Kinshasa and witnessed by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi. Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, 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 socio-economic development.

An important step for air connectivity

Kilavuka said: “Kenya Airways is a player in the aviation space in Africa, and with over forty 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. 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 utilization of our aircraft.”

Speaking about the newly launched cargo direct flights between Johannesburg and Lubumbashi, he added: “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 Kenya Airways’ 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 a capacity shortfall due to the pandemic as well as improve the profitability of KQ’s regional freighters on the return sector from Johannesburg”, he added.

More choice to passengers

Congo Airways’ CEO Pascal Kasongo Mwema Mwenda said increased air connectivity would offer more choices to passengers in the DRC and between the two countries, stressing that It would 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. Congo Airways currently has a fleet of two Airbus A320s and two De Havilland Dash 8s. It has two Embraer E190-E2 on order and placed an order for four E195-E2s in January.

Congo Airways’ current fleet includes two Airbus A320s, but the carrier has six Embraer E2s on order. (Congo Airways)

Kenya is seeking to leverage the DRC market by diversifying its export destinations, given the COVID 19 induced disruption, which has highlighted the need for deeper inter-regional trade. Strengthened bilateral partnerships between the two countries will boost the National Carrier and Congo Airways passenger and cargo transport businesses between the two markets and the international network.

Kenya Airways, which reported some recovery in HY1 despite depressing half-year results, currently operates an Embraer maintenance service center – through its Technical Department – having flown the Embraer jets since 2008. Its Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) has two state-of-the-art hangers, mechanical and avionics workshops, and extensive warehousing capable of handling line and base maintenance of several aircraft models, including twelve Boeing 737s, E-Jets, three 777s, and nine 787s. The carrier has fifteen E190s, of which two have been parked and are likely the ones to be leased to Congo Airways.

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