Cash-strapped South African Airways has turned to Emirates in a bid to turn around its dire financial situation.
I’ve written about South African Airways several times, but stopped recently because I was just writing the same thing, over and over. Another debt deadline, another bailout. The carrier continues to hemorrhage cash and post massive losses. As 2018 draws to a close, it has been eight years since SAA posted a profit. While the carrier hopes to “return to profit” by 2021, without major structural changes the status quo will continue.
Enter Emirates, who has agreed to expand its codeshare relationship with South African Airways. Per Reueters, the “agreement would see the two airlines leverage each other’s route networks, cargo services and flight schedules to boost passenger flows.”
SAA Chief Executive Vuyani Jarana told Gulf News:
It will enable us to explore and leverage synergies between ourselves in a much more enhanced relationship of mutual benefit. Our route network and that of Emirates complement one another. The expansion of our partnership will further strengthen key focus areas of the implementation of our turnaround plan.
What will that entail specifically? All we know thus far is that the two carriers will work on connectivity in Johannesburg to reduce minimum connect times and encourage a more seamless transfer experience.
I will give South African Airways credit for recognizing it cannot compete directly with Emirates. By working with Emirates, to funnel more longhaul traffic on Emirates and regional traffic on SAA, South African Airways may find its best chances for survival. Shedding the longhaul routes and focusing on more profitable regional flying may be the only answer. Emirates can aid in that goal.