Business Edge: SAA & Kenya Airways Partner on New Pan-African Airline

It was in September 2021 when Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta made a visit to South Africa that a new pan-African airline was first announced. The new airline will be a merger of two of Africa’s biggest airlines, South African Airways and Kenyan Airways. Those two are also some of the biggest troubled airlines on the continent, with issues of insolvency and debt plaguing each. Under the proposed strategic plan, the two airlines will collaborate to expand passenger traffic, cargo and haulage prospects as well as trade across Africa. The cooperation also intends to boost the financial stability of both companies, while providing competitive costs across passenger and cargo traffic. Business Edge takes a look at the proposed pan-African airline between South African Airways and Kenya Airways with Lekan Onabanjo conversing with Sean Mendis, an aviation expert based in Blantyre, Malawi.

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In theory, this merger makes sense: Kenya and South Africa have shown their ability to be regional hubs of air traffic in Africa and both attract millions of tourism passengers every year, while also seeking a third partner from West Africa. The practicality is what analysts have not been entirely sure of. “On paper, it is a very good match. However, on a practical level, this is an alliance of two bankrupt companies. Neither South African Airways nor Kenyan Airways is a viable business on its own. The governments of Kenya and South Africa are simply hoping to make magic to turn two negatives into a positive.”

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There’s also the question of the shareholders in both companies which happens to be the government of their respective countries. “No government enterprise anywhere in the world can be truly independent. SAA and Kenya Airways know this and if they’re saying otherwise publicly, it proves that they just want to satisfy their political masters to get financing.”

Watch in full above.


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