Plans to tie two struggling African airlines together are reportedly moving forward.
South African Airways and Kenya Airways are preparing to enter a formal partnership that will see the creation of a Pan-African airline. According to One Mile At A Time, Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya, confirmed the plans during his New Year’s state address last week.
“To boost tourism, trade, as well as social engagement, and to bolster continental integration, our national carrier Kenya Airways will join hands with partners in South Africa to establish a Pan-African airline, with unmatched continental reach and global coverage,” he said.
The deal would help secure the future of two carriers who have struggled with business in the COVID-19 era.
South Africa Airways only resumed regional and domestic service in September 2021 after about a year since it last welcomed guests. Even before the pandemic, the carrier had been dealing with financial troubles, entering a formal business rescue process that it came out of at the end of April 2021.
Kenya Airways, on the other hand, never stopped service during the pandemic, however, it was only able to do so with about $100 million USD of government support in 2020. In December 2021, Kenya’s government said it would pay more than $800 million of debt that the carrier owed and add another $500 million or so in budget support over the next couple of years.
While there’s not much yet revealed, the partnership would allow the carriers to join forces either through a joint venture or some other alliance. It would also allow South Africa to regain some of its long-haul options that were cut during the pandemic.
The partnership still has a long way to go before becoming officially. Most notably, it would not only have to be approved by both carriers but also by both governments, something that apparently became easier after the statement from the Kenya President this week.