KQ, Virgin Atlantic in deal to extend reach in Middle East, US, and Caribbean via London

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  • Kenya Airways (KQ) and Virgin Atlantic (VS) have announced an interline agreement to provide greater customer convenience
  • The airline will extend its reach in the Middle East, the US, and the Caribbean via London. 
  • The agreement further enables Virgin Atlantic passengers to book a through ticket to Nairobi and enjoy seamless connections to Kenya Airways destinations across Africa

Kenya’s national Carrier, Kenya Airways (KQ), and Virgin Atlantic (VS) have announced an interline agreement to provide greater customer convenience.

Under the interline agreement, Kenya Airways will extend its reach in the Middle East, the US, and the Caribbean via London.

Kenya Airways customers flying to London can connect with Virgin Atlantic-operated flights to Tel Aviv, Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Bridgetown, among others.

The agreement further enables Virgin Atlantic passengers to book a through ticket to Nairobi and enjoy seamless connections to Kenya Airways destinations across Africa.

Kenya Airways Chief Commercial & Customer Officer Julius Thairu noted they see opportunities beyond the continent and look forward to expanding their relationship even further to serve destinations across the Middle East, the US, and the Caribbean.

“This agreement will advance our strategy to strengthen our major African hubs with connecting traffic and offer new growth opportunities for both carriers. Additionally, this alliance has a substantial economic impact by enhancing trade and promoting travel across the continent,” Thairu said.

Virgin Atlantic Chief Commercial Officer Juha Jarvinen said the KQ’s network complements their African presence, providing an array of connections for their customers, which makes the deal a natural partnership.

“Together, we will open up new travel opportunities and more choices for customers wishing to travel internationally. We look forward to working together and strengthening our relationship into the future.”

Kenya Airways, South African Airways sign codeshare deal ahead of formation of pan-african airline

The partnership is yet another milestone for Kenya Airways as the airline invests in strategic partnerships in Africa and beyond, including those with South African Airlines, Delta Airlines, JetBlue, British Airways, and Africa World Airlines, among others.

The deal comes a few days after Kenya Airways and South African Airways (SAA) signed a codeshare agreement that opens more destinations for seamless travel opportunities.

Kenya Airways plane. Photo: Kenya Airways

According to the partners, the deal comes when demand for air travel rebounds following negative shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partners noted that the code-sharing agreement would see each airline sell, under its own code, flights operated by each other; South African Airways or Kenya Airways.

SAA’s customers would continue to earn Voyager Miles on these new codeshare flights. The deal will also let travellers combine flight segments and baggage on a single ticket.

Passengers from South Africa will have more options to travel to African destinations, including Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe, Mombasa, and Kisumu. KQ passengers will also have more choices for travelling into Southern Africa, including Cape Town, Durban, and Harare.

The growth of the partnership will see the addition of Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, Juba, Douala, Lusaka Ghana and Nigeria subject to government approval as the airlines seek to offer more options for travellers within Africa.

Allan Kilavuka, Kenya Airways CEO and Group Managing Director, said that as part of their Strategic Partnership Framework, the partners would contribute to making it easier for passengers to reach exciting new destinations within Africa.

“The additional destinations we believe will offer better customer journey thanks to the number of frequencies and connections created and many opportunities for trade and tourism,” he said.

In November 2021, KQ and SAA signed a Strategic Partnership Framework to work together to increase passenger traffic, cargo opportunities, and general trade by taking advantage of strengths in South Africa, Kenya, and Africa.

The new codeshare agreement builds upon an existing special prorate agreement which was signed earlier this year.

Kenya Airways and South African Airways are also exploring ways to enhance co-operation on their respective frequent flyer programs, including reciprocal earning and redemption opportunities and popular benefits such as lounge access. They will announce the details in due course.

KQ in Code sharing Deal with Italian Airline to Expand Market Access

Wanjiku Njuguna is a Kenyan-based business reporter with experience of more than eight years.

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