South African Airways strengthened its alliance with fast-growing Gulf carrier Etihad Airways PJSC by starting a new daily service to Abu Dhabi from Johannesburg and adding a number of routes to a partnership.
The two airlines will share services on 49 routes, more than double the previous number, state-owned SAA said in a statement today.
Etihad has the option of taking a strategic stake in South Africa’s flagship airline to add to a string of similar purchases, acting SAA Chief Executive Officer Nico Bezuidenhout said Dec. 9.
“South African Airways and Etihad Airways continue to explore areas for further cooperation, including joint sales and marketing programs,” SAA said in the statement.
The unprofitable airline is seeking a strategic partner as part of a recovery plan that also includes cost reductions and the acquisition of new planes. SAA is surviving off state- guaranteed loans and has presented a 90-day rescue strategy to the government, which has refused applications for a bailout.