National flag carrier Kenya Airways will deploy the new cargo freighter to serve the East African region when it arrives later this year.
The freighter, the first of its kind in the KQ fleet, will address the latent demand for air freight within the region, spreading to the Central African region and covering Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and southern Sudan.
Kenya Airways Cargo General Manager Sauda Rajab made the announcement during the annual agents’ awards ceremony in Nairobi during which the airline hosted hundreds of the cargo agents, freight forwarders and logistics companies.
"We have already sent a team to the United States to review a potential Boeing 737 cargo freighter but we are confident that we will take delivery of the aircraft by the third quarter of this year," said Rajab.
She explained that the cargo division’s announcement of the impending delivery of a specialized freighter had stirred the market as there was pent up demand for faster movement of goods within the East African and Great Lakes region.
"The freighter will take up the cargo that is not able to go into the relatively smaller Embraer E170 aircraft that currently serve the region," she noted.
To augment the expansion of its cargo capacity, Rajab said that KQ Cargo was keen to establish a online cargo booking and tracking system to be shared with other agencies and players in the cargo freighting sector.
"We are currently in discussions with the Kenya Revenue Authority to establish a Cargo Community System that will automate the manual cargo booking that is currently in use.
"It will operate in a similar manner to the passenger booking system," she said, adding that once the vendors are identified, she will provide a comprehensive update.
The Cargo Community System will be integrated into the E- Freight platform, on which KQ Cargo went live in December last year.
"This is a cog in the wheel of automating cargo freighting which is currently laden with tedious paper processing.
"A single transaction requires at least 30 forms of paper to be filled in and processed at any one time, making the booking, transport and clearing unnecessarily long," she said.
Rajab noted that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which is championing E-Freight had given KQ Cargo an automation target for December 2011.
"We are now expected to process 10 per cent of our total cargo volume through the E-Freight system by the end of this year," she said.