Moving to catch the wind of rebounding international travel to China, Kenya Airways and China Southern Airlines are touting the inter-connectivity of their networks, announcing the reactivation of their interline agreement. Flights under the interline opened for booking across the partner airlines’ sales platforms on April 27, following the relaxing of Covid-19 travel mandates by China in mid-March. Kenya Airways and China Southern reconnect their networks.
The interline provides seamless travel for passengers via Nairobi, Guangzhou, and Shanghai on a single ticket. Africa-bound passengers on China Southern get onward lift to Kenya Airways’ 35 destinations in Africa, while China-bound passengers on Kenya Airways have access to China Southern’s extensive domestic and Asia Pacific regional networks.
“The agreement will assist in restoring connectivity for both airlines’ passengers to points on the respective carriers’ networks via Nairobi, Guangzhou, and Shanghai using a single ticket and one baggage policy,” Kenya Airways said in a statement.
Connectivity options for passengers on Kenya Airways include destinations such as Shanghai, Chongqing, Changsha, Chengdu, Dalian, Fuzhou, Hefei, Hangzhou, Nanchang, Kunming, Guiyang, Ningbo, Nanjing, Nanning, Shenyang, Shantou, Sanya, Qingdao, Jinan, Tianjin. Other options in the Asia Pacific region include Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Penang, Seoul, Singapore Tokyo, Sydney, Auckland, and Melbourne.
With only a handful of direct flights to Africa, the interline expands China Southern reach into destinations in central and western Africa. These areas that are increasingly critical to Chinese mining and commercial interests. The interline deal positions the two carriers for more of the Asia-Africa connector markets, currently dominated by Ethiopian and competitors from the Gulf, who have steadily extended their reach into Africa over the past decade.
Until forced into a painful restructuring that saw it shed significant capacity starting in mid-2015, Kenya Airways operated direct flights to Guangzhou, Hanoi, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. The carrier now only operates to Guangzhou via Bangkok, which makes the interline deals pivotal to reaching a wider market in Asia.
Chinese airlines have limited footprint in Eastern, Central, and West Africa, with most efforts focused on South Africa and the Indian Ocean islands as well as a couple of destinations in North Africa. Last December, Kenya Airways renewed its codeshare with Royal Air Maroc while in November 2021 the airline entered a partnership with South African Airways and in June 2021 with Delta Air Lines.