Soon, a new African airline will take to the sky. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declared in his New Year’s address that Kenya Airways and South African Airways will join forces to launch 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.
The new airline is slated to begin in 2023, according to local reports.
Kenya Airways and South African Airways signed a memorandum of understanding in September 2021, which included a long-term ambition to form a Pan-African airline group.
The airlines expect that the new collaboration will aid both airlines in their recovery from the pandemic, since both have struggled in recent years.
“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 stated that the relationship would not restrict either company from working with other carriers on a commercial basis, and that partnering will help cut costs.
Kenya Airways has reportedly lost more than $333 million in 2020 alone since the coronavirus struck. In the six months ending June 30, 2021, the airline lost more than $100 million.
South African Airways resumed operations in September 2021 after grounding all commercial and cargo flights since September 2020.
After eight years of deficits, the airline filed for liquidation and bankruptcy protection in December 2019, just before the pandemic.
In October 2020, the South African government-backed the airline, investing $650 million to help it follow its restructuring plan.