Kenya Airways and South African Airways to form new airline.

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A potential partnership between Kenya Airways and South African Airways appears to be a done deal. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced during an address to the nation on New Year’s Eve that the airlines will combine operations to form a new carrier, Pan-African Airline, with operations expected to begin in 2023.

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The partnership came about as both airlines sought options to expand their global coverage as well as stem the massive losses each has incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to The Points Guy, Uhuru said the alignment will help “To boost tourism, trade, and social engagement; and to bolster continental integration.”

“Both of these airlines were struggling financially before COVID-19, so you know they’re hanging by a thread,” noted John E. DiScala, the founder and editor-in-chief of Johnny Jet. “I think it’s a great idea to keep them both afloat.”

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A big question that remains unanswered at the moment is what this means for the airline’s network partnerships. South African Airways is part of Star Alliance, the biggest international alliance of airlines. Kenya Airways belongs to SkyTeam. There has been no information released about which network the new airline will be part of.

Back in September, Reuters reported Kenya Airways said in a statement, “It is not a merger but a partnership that seeks to re-organise (sic) KQ and SAA assets into an ecosystem that will make the South African and Kenyan aviation sector more competitive.”

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