MIAMI – Kenya Airways (KQ) and South African Airways (SA) inked a Strategic Partnership Framework on Wednesday, marking a significant step toward forming a Pan African Airline Group by 2023. 

The collaboration conceptual framework is based on the two airlines’ two-month-old Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC), which aims to promote the exchange of knowledge, expertise, innovation, digital technologies, and best practices.

The Strategic Partnership Framework will see them work together to boost passenger traffic, cargo prospects, and general trade by leveraging their capabilities in South Africa, Kenya, and Africa at large. The two airlines’ economic feasibility is projected to improve as a result of the alliance. 

Customers will also benefit from the lower prices in both the passenger and cargo segments. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his South African host, President Cyril Ramaphosa, witnessed the signing of the Strategic Partnership Framework on the second day of Uhuru’s three-day State visit to Johannesburg, South Africa. KQ Chairman Michael Joseph and SAA Chairman John Lamola signed the agreement. 

The pact is in line with the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement’s (AfCFTA) goals of creating a single market for products and services, supported by the movement of people and goods, to further the continent’s economic integration and economic growth.

Demand recovery and other cost-cutting techniques are also included, which would help both carriers recover in an increasingly competitive African aviation sector. 

South African Airways ZS-SXU Airbus A330-243. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Comments from the Airlines


According to The Star, KQ Chairman Michael Joseph noted at the signing ceremony that the partnership is based on mutual benefits and corresponds with Kenya Airways’ main objective of “contributing to the sustainable development of Africa.”

“It will improve connectivity by increasing passenger and freight traffic, as well as the activation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA),” continued Joseph.

“The Pan-African Airline Group will be desirable due to the two nations’ geographic proximity, as it will create the most formidable Airline Group that will make use of assets in South Africa, Kenya, and Africa,” Joseph added. 

Both airlines are sticking to their financial recovery plans. Merging together and integrating assets to provide a more comprehensive and eventually competitive aviation ecosystem to pursue the economic potential of both carriers is one of the pillars to achieve this. 

The Strategic Partnership Framework, according to SA Chairman John Lamola, will boost both airlines’ financial viability by building Africa’s most formidable air transport network, with at least two appealing hubs in Johannesburg and Nairobi.

“It will rekindle the tourism circuits in Kenya and South Africa, which make for important chunks of each country’s GDP,” Lamola added.


Featured image: Kenya Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Photo: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways