National carrier, Kenya Airways PLC, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Congo Airways to collaborate, strengthen, and bolster aviation ties between Kenya and The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The signing of the strategic cooperation on Thursday was witnessed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Congolese host President Félix Tshisekedi on the last day of President Kenyatta’s three-day State visit of DR Congo.
The partnership agreement was signed by Kenya Airways Group CEO Allan Kilavuka and his Congo Airways counterpart Désiré Balazire Bantu in Kinshasa, DRC.
Kilavuka highlighted the importance of the strategic cooperation between the two national carriers and their role in enhancing trade exchange between the two countries and the importance of collaboration on expertise that benefit the aviation sector, especially as the aviation sector recovers from the devastating impact of COVID-19.
“The cooperation between Kenya Airways and Congo Airways will cover technical capacity building, commercial cooperation and human resource training. Part of this will cover cost effective aircraft maintenance and technical expertise, particularly on the Embraer E-Jet fleet training in engineering, flight deck and crew, route codeshare opportunities and other synergies,” said Kilavuka.
The signing of the MOU comes two months after the 21st EAC Heads of State summit directed the community’s council to expedite the verification mission following the application by DRC to join the trading bloc.
“The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated containment measures aimed at preventing the spread of the Coronavirus disrupted the aviation sector, with most markets operating at reduced capacity and some fully shutting down. As the global economies continue to rebound steadily, this commitment provides an opportunity to leverage on the strengths of the industry players in the future,” added Kilavuka.
Kenya is looking to leverage the DRC market by diversifying its export destinations, particularly when the COVID 19 induced disruption has brought into visibility the need for deeper inter-regional trade. Kenya’s exports to the DRC were valued at USD133 million in 2019.
Strengthened bilateral ties between the two countries is expected to help Kenya Airways and Congo Airways strengthen passenger and cargo transport businesses between the two markets and the international network.
“Congo Airways is very excited about this agreement with Kenya Airways. This partnership will contribute to the promotion and the development of both companies. The air transport sector has been very impacted by the pandemic with COVID-19. Together we will provide better solutions and innovations. In the future our companies will be able to face the single air transport market as decided by the African Union,” stated Bantu.
The International Air Transport Associations (IATA) estimates that African airlines saw a combined loss of USD 2 billion due to reduced passenger travel in 2020.