SAA, Kenya Airways ink cooperation pact to explore ‘mutual growth’ 

Kurt Hofmann and Aaron Karp

Star Alliance member South African Airways (SAA) and SkyTeam Alliance member Kenya Airlines signed what the carriers called "a memorandum of co-operation" with the long-term goal of co-starting a “pan-African airline group."

Both airlines said the cooperation pact will "enhance mutual growth potential" by taking advantage of the strengths of the two airlines’ hubs in Johannesburg (JNB) and Nairobi (NBO).

SAA resumed flight operations on Sept. 23 after a 21-month grounding.

"As well as being a strong local carrier, part of our broader growth strategy is to become a major player in regional travel and this joint memorandum with Kenya Airways, one of the continent’s strongest and most respected carriers, will do just that," SAA interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo said. He added that the partnership will give passengers "a wider range of choices and destinations."

Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka added: “The future of aviation and its long-term sustenance is hinged on partnership and collaboration. Kenya Airways and South African Airways' collaboration will enhance customer benefits by availing a larger combined passenger and cargo network, fostering the exchange of expertise, innovation, best practices and adopting home-grown organic solutions to technical and operational challenges."

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Kgokolo said the next step is "to set up a joint working group to further discuss the memorandum and to put in place systems to achieve [the carriers'] joint stated objectives."

The airlines noted that the agreement "does not offer an exclusivity that precludes either of the airlines from pursuing commercial co-operation with other carriers within the current route network strategy."

Photo credit: Rob Finlayson