Aviation: East African carrier Kenya Airways to resume fifth freedom flights between Bangkok and to China, rejects Ethiopian Airlines B737 plan on cargo

Kenya QK shares Bangkok

East Africa carrier, Kenya Airways is set to resume its fifth freedom flight to China, Guangzhou via Bangkok from its hub in Nairobi beginning from in October 25, 2020.

According to simpleflying.com, the service will enable travelers to take advantage of the carrier’s fifth freedom rights between Bangkok and Guangzhou adding that the airline will be running its regular daily service operated by 234-seat Boeing 787-8s.

Guangzhou is the most in-demand city in China for travelers to and from Africa and is known as the ‘African capital’ of the country.
With nearly 171,000 seats in 2019, Kenya Airways was Africa’s third-largest airline serving Guangzhou after Ethiopian Airlines with 348,000 seats to and from Addis Ababa, and EgyptAir with 247,000 to and from Cairo.

An estimated 138,545 passengers flew from Guangzhou and Bangkok with Kenya Airways last year, which is a seat load factor of 81%. Almost 49,000 travelers used the fifth freedom flights between the Chinese and Thai destinations.

What are fifth freedom flights?

The nine freedoms of the air are a set of internationally accepted commercial aviation rights. Fifth freedom flights allow an airline to carry passengers between two countries, neither of which are the country where the carrier is based.
In the case of Kenya Airways service from Nairobi to Guangzhou, the leg between Bangkok and the Chinese city is a fifth freedom flight.

Utilizing a short leg of a long-haul flight has its advantages.
The service will usually be operated by a widebody aircraft, giving you the comforts and facilities you don’t get on a short-haul flight in a smaller plane. You can often find a good deal on tickets, and you can experience an airline from a country you don’t usually travel with.
Kenya Airways is taking off again
Kenya Airways has built a solid reputation as one of Africa’s best-known airlines.

The carrier has a devoted fan base that has supported it over the decades.
The Kenyan flag carrier ceased passenger flights in March, and it was mid-July before it resumed domestic passenger services. However, the airline said that it carried more than 10,000 tons of cargo during the COVID-19 pandemic to enable it to keep trade going. Along with many other airlines, Kenya Airways has prioritized cargo as a means to keep flying.

Guangzhou has been a long-standing destination for the airline. Capacity has remained relatively constant to the city compared to its other Asian destinations, which dropped by more than a quarter between 2015 and 2019. Those included Delhi, Hanoi, and Hong Kong, and the fall in passenger numbers took the airline’s seat sales back to the levels seen in 2011.
Between 2013 and 2015, Nairobi to Guangzhou was a non-stop service.

From 2015 to 2017, it operated via Hanoi three times weekly and via Bangkok four days per week. It has since operated exclusively via Bangkok as it did before 2013.
In a related development, Kenya has rejected Ethiopian Airlines (ET) application to fly cargo in and outside of Kenya using a Boeing 737 aircraft, easing competitive pressure on its top rival, Kenya Airways (KQ).

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe told the Business Daily Monday that Kenya denied ET a licence to ferry cargo using Boeing 737 aircraft on the Addis Ababa-Nairobi-Addis Ababa route but allowed the carrier to continue using the Boeing 777 aircraft for cargo operations on the route.

Boeing 737 is a short to medium range twin-jet narrow body plane that carries between 15-20 tonnes of cargo, while the Boeing 777 is a wide-body airline that carriers around 80 tonnes of cargo.
“What KCAA has denied ET is a licence to include the use of Boeing 737 type of aircraft on its cargo business.

The reason why that decision was reached is a confidential matter. It is not for members of the public to know,” said Mr Kibe.

Ethiopian Airlines had planned to use the Boeing 737 plane to connect Kenya to its hub in Addis Ababa and fly between Nairobi and Liege, a freight hub in Belgium.

It was not immediately clear why the airline wanted to use a Boeing 737, which has a smaller cargo capacity compared to the Boeing 777 and Boeing 757 that the carrier uses for Kenya’s freight business.

The approval hitch look set to ease competitive pressure on Kenya Airways, which uses Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as its main cargo hub.

Kenya Airways generates about Sh11 billion annually from freight, which includes shipping flowers, fresh fruits, and vegetables like green beans.
Freight business has also come under pressure from disruptions caused by the Covid-19.

Ethiopian Airlines has been keen to deploy more cargo planes to compensate for the reduced passenger numbers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In April, Kenya Airways contested a government deal allowing Ethiopian Airlines to operate passenger planes grounded by the coronavirus for shipment of cargo from the JKIA in Nairobi to Europe and Asia.

The loss-making KQ said the deal gave the rival carrier undue advantage in a period when Kenya had frozen international passenger travel.
On April 6, the Ministry of Transport allowed Ethiopian Airlines to vary its licence for passenger planes and use six aircraft to ferry cargo from Nairobi and Mombasa to overseas at a time when carriers are charging a premium for the service.

Source: simpleflying.com, businessdailyafrica.com

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