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Kenya Airways weighs leaving SkyTeam, pursuing JVs

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Kenya Airways Boeing 787-8

Kenya Airways is questioning its future as a SkyTeam alliance member, saying joint ventures (JVs) might prove more valuable to the airline.

“What advantage would we have to stay in SkyTeam? And what when we are independent? We don’t have to be in SkyTeam to have JVs and our shareholder structure would not change when we leave,” Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz told ATW in Nairobi. “The question for us is to stay or leave the alliance.”

Joint ventures allow for closer cooperation than alliances, he said.

“JVs are really business-driven and have a very deep economic sense. You can easily compete with another member of the same alliance while you don’t compete with your JV partner,” he said.

JVs are “almost like having a company together, while the alliance has a non-obligation structure. There is no codeshare obligation—it’s just recommended,” Mikosz said.

Kenya Airways has a longstanding JV with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and Air France joined the partnership in 2018.

In addition to its other partnerships, Kenya is also building relations with Star Alliance member South African Airways (SAA).

“I have no reason not to cooperate with SAA. I don’t care if they are a member of Star Alliance and cooperate with EgyptAir,” Mikosz said.

SkyTeam, which Kenya Airways joined in 2010, is more beneficial to passengers—through frequent flier programs, lounges and membership status—than to the airline, he said.

If the airline decides to leave SkyTeam, it would not seek membership in another alliance, Mikosz said.

ATW

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