The airline industry in Africa needs a period of consolidation if the continent is to overcome its connectivity challenges, according to Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka.
Speaking at the CAPA Leader Summit in Manchester, England, Kilavuka said that the fragmented nature of the sector is due to protectionist measures and is stifling economic growth in the region.
Kenya Airways is currently in the process of deepening its ties with South African Airways (SAA), while at the same time looking to add a new partner in West Africa.
The partnership between the East African carrier and its Southern African counterpart seeks to leverage their respective Nairobi and Johannesburg hubs.
The airlines also hope to strike an agreement with a West African carrier to create a three-hub strategy, allowing them to offer a more comprehensive route network.
“The continent is very fragmented from an airline perspective,” Kilavuka said. “We have so many airlines and my personal view is that we need consolidation.
“That’s therefore what we’re working on. We’ve started discussions with all the major airlines in Africa, particularly our neighbors.”
Kenya Airways and SAA announced their planned partnership in September 2021 and finalized the agreement in November 2021.
“The idea is to see how you can use assets from each airline to increase productivity and have a two or three hub strategy that will encourage this large continent to connect to each other,” Kilavuka said. “It will increase options for our customers and reduce operating costs.”
He added that the “future of aviation in Africa lies in consolidation,” saying that better connectivity across the continent would act as a catalyst for economic growth.