KQ eyes more passenger traffic with new Emirates deal

A KQ passenger plane at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on November 06, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Kenya Airways (KQ) has entered into an interline partnership with Emirates, which will offer passengers access to new destinations on the networks of the two airlines with a single ticket.

The new pact will see Emirates' passengers access 28 destinations in Africa currently on KQ's network connecting through Nairobi.

KQ's passengers will also access destinations on the Emirates network, especially in the Middle East and Asia through its Dubai hub.

The new deal could help KQ grow passenger traffic on its route network to other African countries.

"Emirates customers will now be able to fly to 28 destinations on the Kenya Airways network using Nairobi as the gateway to destinations such as Nampula (Mozambique), Bangui (Central African Republic), Bujumbura (Burundi), Kigali (Rwanda), Dzaoudzi (Mayotte), Lubumbashi, Kinshasa (DR Congo), Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Juba (South Sudan), Zanzibar, among many other regional points across Africa," said the two carriers in a joint statement Monday.

"Additionally, as part of a bilateral interline arrangement, Emirates passengers travelling via Dubai can also book a single ticket itinerary from or to Mombasa, one of the most popular leisure destinations in Kenya."

KQ passengers travelling from Nairobi and Mombasa will now access the Emirates' network and connect through Dubai to 23 destinations in West and South Asia, the Far East, the Indian Ocean and Middle East.

"Kenya is a strategic gateway in our Africa network, and this new interline agreement will enhance connectivity for Emirates' customers and provide them with more travel choices across the continent. We look forward to deepening our relationship with Kenya Airways, offering greater network opportunities and improving connections for both of our customers," said Emirates Chief Commercial Officer Adnan Kazim.

Emirates operates 14 weekly flights between Nairobi and Dubai.

KQ currently operates ten weekly flights between Nairobi and Dubai and recently launched direct flights between Mombasa and Dubai. It operates four weekly flights on the new route.

Why our national carrier must keep on flying

"This partnership will provide the ideal gateway for our customers as we seek to increase our connectivity between Africa and the Middle East through Emirates' hub in Dubai. Partnerships like these are key in aviation as they take advantage of mutual scale and efficiencies to provide customers with more seamless travel options," said KQ Chief Commercial and Customer Officer Julius Thairu.

The national carrier has been seeking strategic partnerships with other carriers.

In April this year, it revived an interline agreement that it had with China Southern Airlines, which was suspended in April 2020.

The deal will enable KQ to increase its reach in China and Asia while enabling China Southern to increase its footprint in Africa.

It plans to get into a possibly bigger partnership with South African Airways (SAA).

The two carriers signed a partnership framework in 2021 that is expected to see them form a Pan-African airline.

Working together will enable them lower travel costs and improve connectivity within Africa. The carriers have also said there are plans to onboard another airline, preferably a West African carrier.

When they signed the partnership framework, the two airlines noted that their partnership was a critical step to the realisation of both the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA) initiatives.

There are expectations that the two initiatives will be key in increasing air connectivity on the continent boosting trade, and tourism while promoting the growth and value of air transport in Africa.

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