Kenya Airways (KQ, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta) has declined to comment on reports the government plans to temporarily lease in freighters to safeguard the country’s fresh produce exports in the wake of disruptions caused by the recent pilot strike.

The Star newspaper quoted Agriculture Minister Franklin Mithika Linturi saying his ministry was “working on a temporary measure to avail special planes to avert further losses in the sector”.

Kenya Airways Chief Executive officer Allan Kilavuka declined to comment when approached by ch-aviation. The airline has two in-house narrowbody B737-300(SF)s, according to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module.

Speaking at a consultative forum recently under the auspices of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK) and Bureau Veritas, Linturi said flight disruptions caused by the recent Kenya Airways pilot strike had cost horticultural exporters more than KES200 million shillings (USD1.6 million).

He said the government’s economic survey for 2022 shows the value of horticultural exports increased from KES150.2 billion (USD1.2 billion) in 2020 to KES157.7 billion (USD1.2 billion) in 2021.

Kenya is particularly known for its export of cut flowers. In 2020, the country exported USD596 million in cut flowers, making it the fourth largest exporter of cut flowers in the world. The main destinations are The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, and Norway.