African airlines must partner up, says SAA CEO

Zurich - Chief executive officer of South African Airlines (SAA), Musa Zwane, wants to see more partnerships emerging among African airlines.

Zwane was in Zurich, Switzerland this week for a CEO board meeting of Star Alliance airline carriers.

"What worries me is that our African carriers find it so easy to partner with airlines from outside the continent,” said Zwane.

“I would, therefore, like to see more partnerships between African airlines," Zwane added.

SAA plans to boost its number of African routes after recently launching flights to Abuja, Nigeria.

"SAA will soon announce its strategy for expanding in the rest of Africa. We want to get some of the low hanging fruit and expand our routes,” said Zwane.

Zwane, though, said that SAA faces challenges in terms of alleged blocking of airline funds by other African countries.

Countries such as Nigeria and Angola do this for foreign exchange purposes owing to the impact that the low oil price has had on their economies.

The buying of jet fuel in these countries is also becoming a challenge because of this issue.

“Where funds are blocked we try to talk to those countries' authorities," said Zwane.

"Stopping certain routes due to blocked funds would be a last resort," Zwane added.

Looking at a more global level, Zwane further reiterated the importance of Star Alliance to SAA.

"Going forward it makes sense to continue with this partnership as we at SAA reinvent ourselves. I am happy about this alliance and comfortable with our continued membership," he said.

"At the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) it was emphasised how important partnerships are to add increased value.

“Membership of Star Alliance leads to meaningful partnerships and adds value to the growth of SAA," said Zwane.

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