South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Air Mauritius and RwandAir are in talks to form an airline alliance before March 2019 in order to protect their market share and improve profitability. The alliance might be because of the expansion of Ethiopian Airways, since Ethiopian it’s growing its footprint on the continent for connecting flights.
The talks to form a regional alliance between these companies have started for 15 months and it is said that currently, the founding airlines are drafting the final version of the deal.
Air Mauritius it is said to have pioneered the alliance.
As an alliance, the partner airlines would also benefit from synergies in areas like maintenance, knowledge sharing and training while they will also have an edge in procurement activities said Somas Appavou, the CEO of Air Mauritius.
Africa is a special continent that is somewhat remote from the global aviation sector and has its own challenges in terms of connectivity. Infrastructure it is not the best in the world and taxes are also high while having tough competition from the Gulf carriers, which are connecting high-revenue passengers especially from Europe and Asia.
It is also to be said that Kenya Airways is already a member of the Skyteam global alliance and I doubt that they would enter another alliance without leaving Skyteam. However, if the African airlines plan to cooperate, there is no need for officialising an alliance, and they could simply codeshare flights and make a joint venture.
The four airlines had in 2017 a total of around 16 million passengers, with South African Airlines having the biggest contribution to the totals, and Rwandair the smallest, with a modest load factor of 60% and 0.6 million passengers carried.