LONDON: Dubai’s flagship airline Emirates is to expand its codesharing agreement with South African Airways (SAA), aiming to improve connectivity between the emirate and locations across Southern Africa.
The expansion of the agreement will support the African airline’s turnaround plan which aims to make a profit by 2021.
SAA is grappling with financial difficulties, having posted a string of losses and forced to rely on government support. Having failed to make a profit since 2011, it is cutting staff numbers and looks to reduce its route network.
“It’s clear that SAA is struggling to survive and so it makes sense for them to coalesce their operations with the powerhouse that is Emirates as opposed to competing head to head, because they simply won’t cut it against them,” said aviation analyst Saj Ahmad at Strategic Aero Research.
“The deal also opens up the possibility of Emirates deploying more flights to places like Cape Town and Johannesburg as well as codesharing on other SAA-regional flights to points that Emirates doesn’t serve.”
Emirates has been flying to South Africa since 1995 and the first codeshare agreement with SAA was signed in 1997.
Under this deal, SAA is able to offer its customers seats on flights operated by Emirates between South Africa and Dubai. This currently includes four daily flights from Johannesburg, three daily flights from Cape Town and one daily flight from Durban.
The new agreement will see this codeshare expand across the airlines’ networks.
“We have seen great success with the codeshare agreement, having enabled greater connectivity to both SAA and Emirates customers, by offering more choice, flexibility and ease of connections to a wide range of cities via Dubai and across more points in Southern Africa,” said Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline.
“Increasing the scope of our agreement underpins the strong bonds we share with SAA and our belief that this enhanced partnership will enable further success and gain to the airlines and their customers,” he said.
SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana said: “Our route network and that of Emirates complement one another. The expansion of our partnership will further strengthen key focus areas of the implementation of our turnaround plan.”
The agreement will include the two airlines working to improve connecting times via Johannesburg, to make it easier for people to catch flights to popular regional destinations.