KQ seeks to take over some major routes from South African Airways

A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya Airways wants South African Airways (SAA) to leave for it some of the routes it operates in Europe and West Africa as the national carrier seeks to expand its reach ahead of the planned formation of a Pan-African airline.

The Kenyan carrier signed a Strategic Partnership Framework with SAA last November, which formed a key milestone towards launching a joint continental airline.

Transport Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge says London and Abuja are some of the routes that KQ, as the airline is known by its international code, desires to get from the ailing SAA in order to expand its customer base.

The airline wants to use Johannesburg as a stopping point to pick up passengers to London or Abuja.

KQ wants to capitalise on the woes facing the South African carrier to improve its revenue and presence on both the European and West African routes.

“There are routes that KQ desire to take from South African Airways because of their strength on routes and available aircraft, we are still in negotiation on this matter,” said Njoroge.

SAA has been in financial turmoil for a couple of years, which saw the airline halt its activities for nearly a year before resuming service partially in 2020.

The airline has been downsized significantly as a result of bankruptcy and shrunk its workforce by about 80 percent. The carrier is currently flying to nine domestic and international destinations with a fleet of six Airbus SE jets.

The partnership framework followed a Memorandum of Cooperation that the two airlines signed in September 2021 to foster the exchange of knowledge, expertise, innovation, digital technologies, and best practice between the two.

The signing of the Strategic Partnership Framework by the pair will see both carriers work together to increase passenger traffic, cargo opportunities, and general trade by taking advantage of strengths in South Africa, Kenya, and Africa.

The PS said part of the initiative signed by the duo included the training of Kenya Airways pilots in South Africa. “South Africa is ahead of us when it comes to aviation training and we want to leverage on this and use SAA facility as our training hub,” the PS said.

Kenya does not have a simulator for Embraer 190 aircraft and local pilots are trained in either Johannesburg or Amsterdam.

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