Kenya Airways (KQ) is on the brink of heightened competition in the lucrative cargo business as Nairobi acceded to Tanzania’s demands, granting the neighbouring country fifth freedom rights.

This development comes in the wake of Dar es Salaam’s threat to prohibit KQ from operating flights to Tanzania.

Under this agreement, Tanzanian Airlines is poised to deploy high-capacity and long-range B767-300F aircraft to transport cargo primarily to Europe, Africa, and Asia.

The move follows Kenya’s compliance with Tanzanian pressure, as Nairobi reciprocated by allowing cargo flights from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to a third country, a request previously denied by Kenya.

The advantage lies with the Tanzanian carrier, whose Boeing 767 can cover a distance of 6,025 kilometers, lifting 52 tonnes of freight.

In contrast, Kenya Airways relies on the B737-300F, with a payload capacity of 23 tonnes. This move by Tanzania marks a significant development in the regional cargo landscape, intensifying the competition in the sector.

Kenya Airways, apprehensive about direct flights from JKIA to third-party countries, had previously opposed Ethiopian Airlines’ similar arrangement.

However, the inclusion of Air Tanzania is anticipated to positively impact Kenya’s horticulture sector, augmenting capacity at JKIA and fostering competitive pricing for cargo services.

Kenya Airways has bolstered its cargo capacity recently by introducing the inaugural Boeing 737-800 Freighter, responding to the escalating demand for cargo services

This addition, the third 737 freighter in the airline’s fleet, signals a considerable expansion in cargo capacity, with plans for a fourth delivery in the coming year.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenya Airways repurposed some of its large-capacity Boeing 787 aircraft for long-haul cargo trips to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.