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Covid-19: KQ converts passenger planes into cargo freighters

National carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) has announced it is converting some of its grounded passenger planes into cargo freighters.

KQ said the move is aimed at keeping the airline in operation amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has completely crippled the air travel industry globally.

On Sunday, a KQ dreamliner registration KQ 2764 took off from Nairobi for Johannesburg loaded with medical goods and essential items.

The grounded KQ passenger planes will complement the carrier’s cargo freighters and will ferry cargo across the world during this tough period.

The national carrier halted its operations after the government announced a ban on all international passenger flights as part of measures to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Other countries have also imposed similar restrictions to stop the spread of the virus that has so far infected more than 1.6 million people globally and killed more than 100,000.

Cargo flights remain operational to offer emergency services and supplies during the pandemic.

Last month, KQ announced all staff, including top managers, would take pay cuts during this period. The move will see all employees take a 50 percent pay cut while CEO Allan Kilavuka will lose 80 percent of his salary.

“We are not taking any decision on layoffs. Instead, we would like everybody to participate in taking a salary reduction and paid and unpaid leave,” Kilavuka said.

The outbreak of the virus saw the company reduce its network by over 70 percent which made it difficult to continue offering international passenger services.

KQ also suspended domestic flights after the government extended a ban on international flights and imposed a cessation order on the Nairobi-metropolitan area.