A new African airline will grace the skies soon. In his New Year’s speech, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that Kenya Airways and South African Airways will partner to form a new Pan-African airline.
“To boost tourism, trade, and social engagement; and to bolster continental integration; our national carrier Kenya Airways will join hands with our partners in South Africa to establish a Pan-African Airline with unmatched continental reach and global coverage,” President Kenyatta said in his December 31, 2021 speech.
According to local news, the new airline is expected to launch in 2023.
Back in September 2021, Kenya Airways and South African Airways signed a memorandum of cooperation that included a long-term plan to start a Pan-African airline group.
The carriers hope that the planned cooperation could help both airlines, which have struggled in recent years, as they recover from the pandemic. .
“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,” Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka said in a press release at the time.
SAA noted that the partnership does not preclude either firm from pursuing commercial cooperation with other carriers and said collaborating would help contain costs.
Since the coronavirus struck, Kenya Airways reportedly suffered losses of more than $333 million in 2020 alone. The airline lost more than $100 million in the six-month period that ended June 30, 2021.
After grounding all its commercial and cargo flights since September 2020, South African Airways resumed its operations in September 2021. Prior to the pandemic, the airline had filed for liquidation and bankruptcy protection in December 2019, after 8 years of continuous losses. The South African government backed the carrier in October 2020, providing it $650 million to implement its restructuring plan.