Dec 26, 2018: Air Mauritius, South African Airways, RwandAir and Kenya Airways plan to launch the first African Civil Aviation Alliance before March 2019, which would accord them improved efficiency and collaborations.

The continent's aviation sector has been facing challenges, including high taxes, airfare and the cost of jet fuel, poor airport infrastructure, international competition mostly from Gulf carriers, and inward-looking aviation policies which have pushed three out of the four, except Air Mauritius into a loss-making territory for more than four years in a row.

The four airlines have been discussing the alliance for over 15 months, and are currently putting final touches onto the deal. It is expected that the arrangement will help them cut back on costs, improve synergy between hubs and expand code-sharing on several routes, making them more competitive than the foreign carriers making inroads into the continent.

The four are expected to formally announce the joint venture before the New Year.

In April, Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph said the airline was holding discussions with other carriers on a joint venture but did not offer any timelines or details.

“We have opened discussions with other airlines on joint venture partnerships. We have started discussions with South African Airways that could see us join forces on aircraft repairs and route joint ventures. So far, we have discussed issues of mutual concern. For example, we fly to similar destinations in Africa, so there’s a possibility we could share those routes,” said Michael Joseph, chairman, Kenya Airways.

Kenya Airways is already working on a plan with its host, the Kenya Airports Authority, which will see it takes charge of the Nairobi hub. South African Airways, RwandAir and Air Mauritius already enjoy this exclusivity in their Johannesburg, Kigali and Port Louis hubs.

Already, Air Mauritius has expanded its existing codeshare with Kenya Airways into a reciprocal agreement. Kenya Airways already places its code on Air Mauritius's three times weekly Mauritius-Nairobi flights.

On the other side, for Kenya Airways, which began its direct nonstop flights to New York would offer it clientele, based mainly on the fact that Mauritius is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, feeding through its Nairobi hub.

Recently, SAA signed a deal with Emirates to expand an existing codeshare agreement. The deal would see the two airlines leverage each other’s route networks, cargo services and flight schedules to boost passenger flows.

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