Two Africa-based airlines, both hard-hit by the pandemic and both seeking to build more global reach will combine by next year to fly as Pan-African Airlines.
The two, South African Airways and Kenya Airways, had been in discussions on cooperation for some time, and both had been struggling financially even before the pandemic. The plan to merge was announced on New Years Eve by Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, who said the merger will help to "boost tourism, trade and social engagement, and to bolster continental integration.
The plan is a change from September, when Kenya Airways described a plan that "is not a merger but a partnership that seeks to re-organize KQ and SAA assets into an ecosystem that will make the South African and Kenyan aviation sector more competitive.” At the time, SAA had just resumed operations after a year on the ground.
Among questions that remain about the new airline are what partnerships and alliances it will choose to be affiliated with. South Africa Airways is a Star Alliance member, along with United and Lufthansa, while Kenya has been a member of the Delta and AirFrance/KLM-led Sky Team.