Foreign airlines shun codeshare deal with Nigerian carriers

….Europe, US, Middle East scamper for strong African operators


African airlines are reaping the benefits of collaboration as they tend to leverage the wings of other carriers to extend their operations.

A recent codeshare agreement between Kenya Airways and Virgin Atlantic is opening a vista of opportunities to both airlines just as Nigerian carriers are stuck in one place as they are yet to strike a codeshare deal with any of the big carriers from Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

Africa’s most profitable and successful airline, Ethiopian Airlines is a Star Alliance member, having joined in December 2011. Egypt Air is also a member of the Star Alliance network and these airlines enjoy strong partnerships with each other.

Investigation shows that none of the 12 operating domestic airlines in Nigeria have codeshare arrangements with foreign airlines.

Foreign airlines’ have stringent terms and conditions for code sharing which most domestic airlines do not abide to.

The first condition domestic airlines must fulfil before they can attract partnerships with foreign airlines is when they belong to global alliances such as the OneWorld, SkyTeam and Star alliance, but none of Nigeria’s airlines are in these alliances.

Star Alliance, Oneworld, and Skyteam now comprise more than 80 member airlines, which represent more than 50 per cent of global capacity and generate more than $380 billion in revenue annually.

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Passengers and airlines across the world have built a level of confidence in airlines belonging to these alliances.

Just last week, British carrier Virgin Atlantic inked a codeshare agreement with Kenya Airways aimed at expanding their reach in the domestic, African and international markets.

The agreement would make it easy for Virgin Atlantic to place its code on Kenya Airways’ London flights, providing passengers with seamless access to Kenya Airways’s extensive network of destinations in Africa and beyond, the two airlines said.

A codeshare is a business deal between two or more airlines, which allows them to sell seats on each other’s flights and expand their network.

Each airline publishes and markets a flight under its designator and number as part of its schedule.

“Through the synergy of our respective strengths and networks, our goal is to enhance the travel experience for our esteemed customers, providing them with expanded choices, enhanced convenience, and seamless connectivity to vital destinations worldwide,” said KQ’s chief commercial and customer officer Julius Thairu in a statement on Thursday.

Kenya Airways has been seeking new partnerships and expanding its wings across its network during post COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

This will see it rake in more revenues as demand for air travel continues to pick up after a tough season during the COVID-19 outbreak that saw some airlines completely shut down.

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Not a few believe that a lack of extensive codeshare agreements with foreign partners is stunting the growth of Nigerian airlines.

Air Peace, is regarded as Nigeria’s biggest airline by aircraft size. People close to the carrier told Aviation Metric that the carrier will be looking into the future with plans to enter into a strong partnership that would be beneficial to it.

The absence of a codeshare deal with any of the big carriers by any Nigerian carrier has limited the scope of the carriers’ operations and has stunted their growth.

Experts further stated that the categorization of Nigerian carriers as weak, small and fragmented with a lack of good network may have led to the carriers shunning indigenous airlines for cooperation.

Asked if Delta Air Lines was open to entering into a codeshare deal with any Nigerian carrier, the Director of Sales, Middle East, Africa and India, Paul Hassenstab told our correspondent that his carrier is very comfortable with those relationships it has with Kenya Airways, saying, “Our mission is to make them as successful as possible.”

An airline operator who pleaded anonymity said, “We are quite open to codeshare arrangements with foreign airlines operating in Nigeria. That has been our advocacy for many years. We have always maintained that foreign airlines operating in Nigeria should be limited to one or two points in Nigeria.”

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“If the flight terminates in Lagos or Abuja, then domestic airlines they codeshare with can lift their passengers to their final destinations. In that case, the passengers would purchase a single ticket.”

The source further stated that the disposition of the foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, however, appears to be opposed to this sort of arrangement, as they seem to prefer the option of flying to multiple destinations and this development cannot be in favour of the codeshare initiative.

“Codeshare is part of the arrangements for our proposed international flights. This is the approach we expect foreign airlines operating in Nigeria to embrace, but they appear to have a different agenda. So, we can confirm our interest in code sharing with our foreign counterparts, but we can’t compel them to tag along,” he added.

Wole Shadare

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