By Wallace Mawire
Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways PLC (KQ), has signed a Strategic Partnership Framework today with South African Airways (SAA), a key milestone towards co-starting a Pan African Airline Group by 2023. The partnership framework follows the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) that the two airlines signed two months ago to foster the exchange of knowledge, expertise, innovation, digital technologies, and best practice between the two airlines.
The signing of the Strategic Partnership Framework by the two African airlines will see both airlines work together to increase passenger traffic, cargo opportunities, and general trade by taking advantage of strengths in South Africa, Kenya, and Africa. It is expected that the partnership will improve the financial viability of the two airlines. Customers will also benefit from more competitive price offering for both passenger and cargo segment.
The signing of the Strategic Partnership Framework was witnessed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his South African host, President Cyril Ramaphosa on the second day of President Kenyatta’s three-day State visit to South Africa. The Strategic Partnership Framework was signed by KQ Chairman Michael Joseph and SAA Chairman John Lamola in Johannesburg South Africa.
The partnership framework aligns well with the aspirations of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) of providing a single market for goods and services, facilitated by movement of persons and goods to deepen the economic integration and prosperity of the African continent. It also includes demand recovery and other cost containment strategies which will aid the recovery of both carriers in an increasingly competitive African airline environment.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, KQ Chairman Michael Joseph said, “This cooperation aligns with Kenya Airways’ core purpose of ‘Contributing to the sustainable development of Africa’ and is based on mutual benefits. It will increase connectivity through passenger traffic, cargo opportunities, while enhancing the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA). The geo location of the two countries will make the Pan-African Airline Group attractive by creating the most formidable Airline Group that is expected to take advantage of strengths in South Africa, Kenya, and Africa.”
Both airlines remain committed to their financial turnaround strategy. One of the pillars to achieve this is coming together and combining assets to provide a more robust and ultimately competitive aviation ecosystem to pursue the commercial viability of both carriers.
Kenya Airways, a member of the Sky Team Alliance, is a leading African airline flying to 41 destinations worldwide, 34 of which are in Africa and carries over four million passengers annually. In 2020 KQ was named Africa’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards. It continues to modernize its fleet with its 32 aircraft being some of the youngest in Africa. This includes its flagship B787 Dreamliner aircraft. Kenya Airways services London, Amsterdam, Guangzhou, Sharjah, Mumbai and over 25 intra-Africa routes in addition to its passenger network. The on-board service is renowned and the lie-flat business class seat on the wide-body aircraft is consistently voted among the world’s top 10. Kenya Airways takes pride in being at the forefront of connecting Africa to the World and the World to Africa through its hub at the new ultra-modern Terminal 1A at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
South Africa Airways (SAA) began operations on 1 February 1934. SAA, is a leading carrier in Africa, serving regional destinations between Johannesburg and six African destinations – Accra, Kinshasa, Harare, Lusaka, Lagos (from 12th December 2021), Mauritius and 1 domestic route between Johannesburg and Cape Town. It is a member of the largest international airline network, Star Alliance. SAA’s core business is the provision of passenger airline and cargo transport services together with related services, which are provided through SAA and its wholly owned subsidiaries: SAA Technical (SAAT), a world class maintenance facility and Air Chefs, the catering entity of SAA. SAAT has particularly been successful in the delivery of high-quality maintenance services such as; major airframe checks; engine overhaul; mechanical components; avionics and line maintenance. From its first flight in 1934, SAA have welcomed the world to South Africa by showing off the warm generous heart of the country. The airline has more than 80 years of excellence and innovation to draw on.