MIAMI – Kenya Airways (KQ), the flag airline of Kenya, is ending its partnership with Air France-KLM Group. The partnership was temporarily suspended this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of a return to normal operations. Both companies mutually agreed on a final termination, which will go into effect in September 2021.

Following flight resumptions in 2021, KQ plans to continue serving European destinations such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome. These flights will operate via codeshare in joint with Air France-KLM, as well as other carriers including Alitalia (AZ), British Airways (BA), Lufthansa (LH), and Swiss International Air Lines (LX). As a member of SkyTeam Alliance, KQ will apply its loyalty program to flights operated by partner airlines.

“This development allows Kenya Airways to offer additional options and convenience to our customers connecting through our European gateways in line with our goal of supporting the recovery of international tourism in Kenya and connecting Africa to the world, and the world to Africa,” says Allan Kilavuka, Chief Executive Officer of KQ.

Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo: Mark Harkin via Wikimedia

Nationalization Talks

Kenya Airways originally entered a partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL) in 1995. In March 2018, Air France (AF) joined to “consolidate the Air France-KLM group’s capacity in East Africa.” The agreement gave customers an improved ability to connect from Europe to 26 different destinations in Africa. By summer of 2018, it had expanded to cover 51 African destinations.

There has been recent talk of KQ becoming nationalized, and the termination of the Air France-KLM partnership could possibly be a step towards this process. The airline was initially privatized in 1996 and has remained so for 24 years.

The Parliament of Kenya created the National Aviation Management Bill which would return KQ to state ownership, but it currently sits “on ice” due to the public not having enough time to provide input on the matter.

Featured image: Kenya Airways Boeing 777-2U8ER at AMS. Photo: Björn Strey via Wikimedia