NAIROBI, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan carrier, Kenya Airways said Tuesday it had partnered with Canadian aerospace firm Avianor to repurpose its Boeing 787 Dreamliners' cabins to pave way for bulk cargo transportation.
The carrier said in a statement issued in Nairobi the joint venture is historic since it will mark the first time a Dreamliner has been repurposed globally to support transportation of cargo.
"We are excited to be part of the first-ever certified cargo conversion of this type on the Boeing 787 aircraft," said Allan Kilavuka, CEO of Kenya Airways.
He said the repurposing was a demonstration of the national carrier's agility and innovation to boost its cargo transportation capacity amid slump in passenger numbers linked to COVID-19 pandemic.
"Kenya Airways will keep playing its role as a catalyst for economic growth in the continent, by connecting the world to Africa, and Africa to the world for both our cargo and passenger customer segments," said Kilavuka.
So far, the repurposed cabin of a Dreamliner that commenced in December 2020 and was completed in January has been certified to carry up to 16 tons of cargo, while enabling the aircraft to reach its maximum payload while in cargo operation of 46 tons.
Kilavuka said Kenya Airways is prepared to respond to a growing demand for essential medical commodities like therapeutics and vaccines as part of its support to the fight against the pandemic.
The national carrier currently has nine Dreamliners in its fleet, which are mainly used for passenger flights while some of them were used for cargo transportation at the height of the pandemic.
Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) have granted airworthiness to the repurposed Dreamliner, to pave way for its plunge into cargo transportation in the international routes.
Gilbert Kibe, director-general of KCAA said that creation of an additional capacity for cargo will ensure the national carrier plays a major role in post-pandemic recovery of regional and international trade.