Ethopian Airlines makes interline deal with CemAir, SAA code share suspended

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The deal enables seamless travel with a single ticket and lower cost. (iStock)
The deal enables seamless travel with a single ticket and lower cost. (iStock)

After taking some time to get to the implementation stage, a so-called interline partnership between local private airline CemAir and Ethiopian Airlines will go live on 1 February this year.

The deal enables seamless travel with a single ticket and lower cost between points within the two carriers' networks.

Effective from 8 October 2020 a code share agreement between Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways had been suspended until further notice. SAA has been in business rescue since December 2019 and effectively "mothballed" since May 2020.

CemAir CEO Miles van der Molen said on Tuesday that the deal does not involve an investment, but is purely a commercial arrangement, which makes it more convenient for passengers to connect from Ethiopian Airlines flights to those of CemAir.

"This is a fairly common type of commercial relationship between airlines. We also have one with Qatar Airways. It helps with connectivity and does not involve things like rebranding," said Van der Molen.

"All airlines are in a type of apocalypse. Everybody is looking at future relationships once travel normalises. Ethopian has a good and expanding African footprint and looking for new partners."

It is not a code share agreement, but more about expanding each others' networks. Revenue from tickets sold as part of the interline agreement, will be shared by the two airlines. 

Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the airline industry demand is "very soft" currently, according to Van der Molen.

"We are seeing demand about where we were in August last year. The lockdown impacts passenger confidence. They are worried about being stuck somewhere. Businesses are in survival mode, waiting for things to return to normal," he says.

"The current fares and capacity cannot last. Either there will have to be an enormous influx of passengers - which seems unlikely - or a huge reduction in capacity. All airlines are very stretched at the moment. Fortunately CemAir also does work outside the country and on top of that we have small planes so we can scale back to remain sustainable."

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