Kenya Airways (KQ) has started ferrying cargo on behalf of South African Airways with which it signed a pact last year to establish an African airline by 2023.
The move gives the national carrier an opportunity to expand its cargo business which has been growing since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic that hurt passenger travel.
The pact inked a few weeks ago has seen KQ ferry cargo on behalf of the South African carrier on routes that it operates freighter business such as Amsterdam.
The cargo deal comes at a time the two carriers are in talks to jointly expedite the implementation of common business plans to gain a competitive edge over rivals.
Cargo accounted for 19 percent of the airline's Sh70.22 billion sales in the year to December 2021.
"KQ is carrying cargo for us on routes where we don't operate as a third-party service provider," South African Airways Acting (SAA)chief executive CEO John Lamola told the Business Daily on Tuesday.
"They are doing cargo for us because we don't have the capacity to do it. We only operate nine planes down from 50 because we went into bankruptcy."
The two carriers signed a strategic partnership framework in South Africa last November, in a move that will see them eventually form a Pan-African carrier amid common longstanding financial woes exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic among other problems.
It is expected that the partnership will improve the financial viability of the two airlines currently struggling to stay afloat.
Customers will also benefit from more competitive price offerings for both passenger and cargo segments.
To date, the two carriers have signed a lounge access agreement for their customers as part of the Strategic deal to establish a Pan-African Airline.
The lounge access agreement allows KQ business class customers as well as Sky Team Elite customers (platinum and gold) to have exclusive access to the lounge services at the SAA modern lounge located at O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
At the SAA lounges in Johannesburg, customers have two lounge options to choose from.
Both lounges offer a tranquil and comfortable escape from the hustle of the airport to freshen up, have complimentary Wi-Fi access, entertainment, and indulge in food and beverages.
The partnership between the two carriers comes at a time when they are both struggling financially.
SAA was declared bankrupt a while back, a move that saw it ground its services for months before resuming operations again last year.
KQ, as the carrier is known by its international code has been on a loss-making streak long before even the coronavirus crisis hit the aviation sector.
The carrier reported a net loss of Sh15.8 billion in the year ended December 2021 compared to a net loss of Sh36.2 billion the year before when travel restrictions hit operations hardest, including the grounding of its planes for months.