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KQ and South African Airlines sign deal to form pan-African airline

Both Airlines have struggled to remain afloat for close to a decade now.

KQ and South African Airlines sign deal to form pan-African airline.

Crisis-ridden Kenya Airways (KQ) and South African Airlines (SAA) have entered a memorandum of cooperation with a longer-term view to co-starting a Pan-African Airline Group.

Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Allan Kilavuka, highlighted the partnership’s significance in turning around the fortunes of both KQ and SAA.

“The future of aviation and its long-term sustenance is hinged on cooperation. KQ and SAA collaboration will enhance customer benefits by availing a larger combined passenger and Cargo network, fostering the exchange of expertise, innovation, best practice, and adopting home-grown organic solutions to technical and operational challenges."

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For the past few years, talks of full nationalization have been ongoing especially after KQ posted a historic loss of over sh.33 billion for the fiscal year of 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, passenger numbers dropped by close to two-thirds, and the share loss jumped by as much.

This partnership is seen as proof that Kenya's national carrier 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," the statement read.

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SAA’s Interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo noted that “This cooperation, which includes demand recovery and other cost containment strategies, will aid recovery of both carriers in an increasingly competitive African airline environment."

The partnership also targets the tourism sector, as both countries aim to increase the number of tourists to their respective countries.

"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," Kgokolo revealed.

KQ, DRC and SA deal

The news comes barely 24 hours after news broke that KQ had launched direct cargo flights between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

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The move comes after the airline signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) with fly Congo Airways that would increase air connectivity and strengthen operations amid the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on the aviation industry.

Previously, all traffic departing from Johannesburg had to pass through Nairobi.

“We are delighted to mark our newly launched direct cargo flights between South Africa & the DRC at a jointly hosted event in Johannesburg.

Cargo has provided new opportunities in the face of the pandemic & we are keen to keep strengthening our operations & leverage partnerships,” the airline said in a statement.

The announcement was made two weeks after KQ leased two Embraer E190 jets and crew to the Congo carrier in a move aimed at offering greater passenger and cargo options between the two countries.

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The cargo codeshare partnership with the Congo Airline is meant to boost domestic operations and flight frequencies in the Central African country.

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