KENYA – National carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) and South African Airways (SAA), have signed a co-operation strategic partnership with the ultimate goal of co-starting a Pan-African Airline Group, reports Capital FM.

The co-operation is among others, aimed at addressing the significant contraction witnessed in the history of the African air transport market which shrunk 50 percent in the wake of COVID-19.

In a press statement, Kenya Airways noted that the memorandum of cooperation will be based on mutual benefits which seek to see an increase in passenger traffic, cargo opportunities, and general trade by taking advantage of strengths in both countries.

The agreement, however, does not limit either of the airlines from pursuing commercial cooperation with other carriers within the current route network strategy.

“This cooperation will be based on mutual benefits including strategic positioning in global aviation, diversifying earning streams, and reinforcing regional partnership in Africa through diplomatic and commercial relations,” it said,

KQ Chief Executive Officer, Allan Kilavuka said the partnership will play a significant role in the growth of both airlines by enhancing customer benefits through a larger combined passenger and cargo network,

As part of the deal, Kilavuka said both airlines will exchange expertise, innovation, best practice, and adopt home-grown organic solutions to technical and operational challenges

“The future of aviation and its long-term sustenance is hinged on cooperation. KQ remains committed to its financial turnaround strategy. The pursuit of partnerships is one of the core strategic pillars that shall transform the airline by ensuring its financial viability while offering world-class services in Africa and the world,’ KQ said.

South Africa Airways Interim Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kgokolo, on his part, noted that the cooperation will aid the recovery of both carriers in the current and post-pandemic business and travel environment.

“It will also enhance related Kenya and South Africa tourism circuits, which sectors account for significant portions of respective country growth domestic product, benefiting from at least two attractive hubs in Johannesburg, Nairobi and possibly Cape Town,” he noted.

South Africa’s embattled national airline flew its first plane on 23rd September 2021 since March 2020 after emerging from bankruptcy proceedings.

Once Africa’s second-largest airline after Ethiopian Airlines, SAA had survived for decades on government bailouts and was shedding routes even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

The government agreed in June to sell a 51 percent stake to a group of investors called the Takatso Consortium, opening the way to a potential injection of US$200 million.

Even after a state bailout of more than US$500 million and a restructuring of its debt, the airline only emerged from bankruptcy after slashing hundreds of jobs.

In addition to the domestic route that resumed on 23rd September 2021, SAA plans to begin regional services next week to Accra, Kinshasa, Lusaka, Harare and Maputo.

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