Kenya Airways (KQ) has started ferrying cargo on behalf of South African Airways with which it signed a pact last year to establish an African airline by 2023.
The move gives Kenya’s national carrier an opportunity to expand its cargo business which has been growing since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic that hurt passenger travel.
The pact, inked a few weeks ago, has seen KQ ferry cargo on behalf of the South African carrier on routes that it operates freighter business such as Amsterdam.
The cargo deal comes at a time the two carriers are in talks to jointly expedite the implementation of common business plans to gain a competitive edge over rivals.
Cargo accounted for 19 percent of the airline's Ksh70.22 billion ($597 million) sales in the year to December 2021.
"KQ is carrying cargo for us on routes where we don't operate, as a third-party service provider," South African Airways Acting (SAA) chief executive John Lamola told the Business Daily on Tuesday.
"They are doing cargo for us because we don't have the capacity to do it. We only operate nine planes down from 50 because we went into bankruptcy."
The two carriers signed a strategic partnership framework in South Africa last November, in a move that will see them eventually form a Pan-African carrier amid common longstanding financial woes exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic among other problems.
It is expected that the partnership will improve the financial viability of the two airlines currently struggling to stay afloat.
Customers will also benefit from more competitive price offerings for both passenger and cargo segments.