Kenya Airways has entered into a short-term wet lease agreement with Hi Fly, a renowned lease and charter specialist airline, to address heightened demand and operational disruptions caused by a scarcity of spare parts.

The move is a response to the national carrier’s effort to increase its capacity during the current festive season, which has placed considerable strain on the available seating.

In deviation from its customary fleet composition, Kenya Airways will integrate an A330 Airbus into its operations, marking the carrier’s first encounter with an Airbus in over two decades.

This temporary addition to the fleet underscores the airline’s commitment to surmounting current challenges and optimising operational efficiency.

The ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance) lease arrangement ensures the inclusion of the aircraft along with its crew—a practice commonly referred to as a wet lease in aviation vernacular.

Allan Kilavuka, Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Airways, highlighted the necessity of prompt measures to address market challenges.

“With the current capacity constraints on the back of the growing demand for airline travel, we need to balance our customers immediate needs by bringing more capacity into the market,” said Kilavuka.

The introduction of the Airbus is expected to alleviate capacity issues and enhance operational stability, coinciding with President William Ruto’s recent announcement declaring Kenya a visa-free country starting January 2024.

This development, according to Mr Kilavuka, is anticipated to contribute to an upswing in traveler numbers, prompting the need for expanded capacity.

The A330 Airbus, a wide-bodied aircraft, boasts a seating capacity for 299 passengers, with 24 in the business cabin and 275 in economy class.

Beyond passenger transport, the aircraft enhances cargo capabilities by providing additional belly capacity, reinforcing Kenya Airways’ commitment to meeting evolving market demands.

Mr Kilavuka expressed confidence that the swift integration of the Airbus would result in improved operational efficiency and stability.

“With the arrival of the aircraft, we expect to see enhanced capacity, ensuring the convenience of our passengers,” said the CEO.