The national flag carriers of Kenya and South Africa, Kenya Airways (KQ) and South African Airways (SAA), on Wednesday signed a strategic partnership framework agreement. The agreement was signed in Johannesburg during the State visit of the Kenyan President to South Africa. KQ is a public-private partnership while SAA is entirely State-owned.
This new agreement follows on from a memorandum of cooperation signed by the two airlines just two months ago. That was intended to promote the exchange between them of expertise and knowledge, particularly regarding best practices, digital technologies and innovation. The new agreement is intended as a key step towards the joint creation by KQ and SAA of a pan-African airline group, by 2023.
“This cooperation aligns with Kenya Airways’ core purpose of ‘contributing to the sustainable development of Africa’ and is based on mutual benefits,” stated KQ chairperson Michael Joseph. “It will increase connectivity through passenger traffic, cargo opportunities, while enhancing the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. The geolocation 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.”
“The strategic partnership framework will improve the financial viability of both airlines by creating the most formidable air transport connection in Africa by benefitting from at least [the] two attractive hubs of Johannesburg and Nairobi,” highlighted SAA chairperson John Lamola. “It will ignite the Kenya and South Africa tourism circuits, which account for significant portions of the respective countries’ [gross domestic products].”
Both KQ and SAA are currently implementing financial turnaround strategies. Both airlines remain committed to their turnaround strategies. These programmes will be strengthened by the two carriers cooperating and combining assets. This will create an aviation ecosystem that will be both more robust and, in the end, more competitive. For example, it is expected that customers will benefit from more competitive cargo and passenger prices. The consequence will be to improve the financial viability of both airlines.
KQ currently flies from Nairobi to 34 international destinations in Africa and seven outside Africa (for a total of 41), plus some domestic routes. SAA currently flies from Johannesburg to six international destinations in Africa, plus one domestic route (to and from Cape Town). KQ is a member of the Sky Team airline alliance, while SAA belongs to the Star Alliance.