The planned partnership to form a Pan African Airline by Kenya Airways and South African Airways has left aviation pundits at a crossroads on the airline network that the two carriers will join.
The two airlines already belong to different networks and aviation experts opine that how this issue will be addressed is bound to be a challenge.
Kenya Airways is a member of the Sky Team — the second-largest airline network — while South African carrier belongs to Star Alliance, so far the largest of the three major aviation clubs with a membership of 28 airlines.
The partnership of the two carriers had been announced sometime in November. However, it came as a surprise on December 31 when President Uhuru Kenyatta said the two airlines will combine their assets to form a Pan-African carrier, becoming a high ranking member in the planned merger.
“To boost tourism, trade, and social engagement; and to bolster continental integration; our national carrier Kenya Airways will join hands with our partners in South Africa to establish a Pan-African Airline with unmatched continental reach and global coverage,” said Mr Kenyatta in the New Year address.
The two carriers have remained tightlipped on their mode of operation once they join hands.
It is believed the merger deal was sealed when Mr Kenyatta recently visited South Africa and that operations are expected to commence next year.
“We are all in the dark over this deal. No one knows the kind of partnership that the two will join,” said an aviation expert.
Alliance membership is an important association in airlines as it comes with a number of benefits. Members of the same alliance can establish a code-sharing where they agree to conduct bookings on behalf of a certain carrier and connect passengers from a given country to their final destination.
For instance, a passenger travelling from Nairobi on a KLM flight to the US can connect to America through a Delta flight, which are both members of the Sky Team alliance.
Questions also linger on what will happen to the loyalty miles that customers have accumulated over the years and whether those points will be accepted by other airlines after these two carriers quit their respective alliances.Passengers normally accumulate points when they are travelling with a given airline and those points can be redeemed in any of the carriers as long as they are in the same membership.In 2020, South Africa granted Kenya Airways a third freedom […]