Tuesday, October 2, 2012

► DUBAI: Emirates looks to partner African LCC airlines in bid to establish feeder networks.

EmiratesEmirati carrier Emirates (EK) has allured to plans it has for future partnerships with Africa-focused low-cost carriers as the mega-carrier moves to boost its presence on the continent.

Spurred on by Africa’s rapid economic growth amid increased trade with Asian economies, the Middle Eastern carrier is looking to connect the bulk of the continent’s travellers to the rest of the world through its Dubai hub with the budget airlines feeding it with cargo and passengers in major cities like Nairobi, Dakar and Luanda.

On the topic, Emirates Senior Vice-President in charge of commercial operations for Africa, Jean-Luc Grillet said:
Jean-Luc Grillet
Jean-Luc Grillet
We are used to a very strong partnership with low cost carriers because they complement our services,” he told the Business Daily in in Nairobi. "We are interested in forging such partnerships here in Africa. Africa is one of the few areas to record growth. Obviously this presents a real opportunity for us in terms of both passenger and cargo business.

It is uncertain with whom the carrier is negotiating, but with FastJet soon to launch in Dar es Salaam followed by Nairobi and Accra, chances are high that some sort of interline agreement could be reached, akin to that of fellow competitor Qatar Airways (QR), who at present, have an interline agreement with Tanzania's Precision Air (PW) which allows Qatar Airways passengers, arriving in Dar es Salaam, to connect to Precision Air's network of services throughout East Africa. Their agreement means passengers are able to purchase a single itinerary which combines flights on both carrier's networks allowing through baggage check-in.

South African Airways (SA) has also investigated the establishment of a possible feeder network in West Africa, where it is currently looking at the setting up an SAA/SA Express/Mango hub in Accra, Ghana. Not to be outdone, EgyptAir (MS) recently signed a deal with Ghana's CTK CityLink Airlines (CTQ) to  acquire "about a 50% stake" in the struggling Ghanaian domestic operator in a bid to establish itself in the growing West African market.

However, other major African carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines (ET) and Royal Air Maroc (AT) have yet to venture into the LCC market, though Kenya Airways (KQ) are due to launch their own LCC, JamboJet, in the next few months which will, in the long term, take over its parent's short-haul domestic and regional flights, leaving Kenya Airways to focus on growing its connections between Africa and international markets.