END OF ERA

KQ sever ties with KLM in September next year

The national airline to continue serving the European market through its gateways of London, Paris and Amsterdam with Rome slated for resumption from 2021.

In Summary
  • This will see the national carrier trade freely in Europe. 
  • The state and local banks became Kenya Airways’s biggest shareholders following a bailout in 2017, cutting down KLM’s stake
KQ plane departs from JKIA.
KQ plane departs from JKIA.
Image: FILE

Kenya Airways (KQ) will terminate its over two-decade joint venture partnership with Air France KLM Group in September next year, a move that will see the national carrier trade freely in Europe. 

In September last year, Kenya requested to change the 24- year old terms of engagement with KLM in order to gain more control over cost and revenue-sharing deals and the ability to make agreements with other airlines.

It also cited losses and disagreements over destinations as reasons to sever ties. 

The airlines had in March suspended the Joint Venture cooperation y due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent unpredictability of return to normalcy in operations. 

On Saturday, KQ said the new development allows it to offer additional options and convenience to customers connecting through  European gateways in line with the goal of connecting Africa to the World.

In a statement, KQ CEO Allan Kilavuka said easing ties with the French-Dutch group will see them seek additional partnerships with carriers such as Alitalia, British Airways, Lufthansa, and Swiss International Airlines amongst others. 

The existing arrangement allowed the carriers to pool resources and gain easier access to their respective territories through joint ticket sales. 

The deal which dates to 1995 and enhanced over years has seen the total number of frequencies operated jointly by Kenya Airways and KLM to approximately 44 weekly flights with combined revenues exceeding $500 million over (Sh50 billion).

Kenya Airways said it would continue to serve the European market through its gateways of London, Paris and Amsterdam with Rome slated for resumption from 2021. 

The national carrier which is undergoing nationalisation process has been strategically pushing out KLM staff, starting with former chief operating officer Jan de Vegt whose role was unceremoniously crapped. 

“Kenya Airways decided to stop all support by KLM. For this reason, I am returning to Amsterdam… as there will be no COO in KQ from now on, I will close this account. Until we meet again,” Jan tweeted in July last year. 

The state and local banks became Kenya Airways’s biggest shareholders following a bailout in 2017, cutting down KLM’s stake. The National Treasury owns now 48.9 per cent, banks control 38.1 per cent followed by Air France-KLM at 7.8 per cent.

Kenya Airways operates over 70 flights a day and flies to over 53 destinations worldwide, 43 of which are in Africa.

The new development is likely to see cement its SkyTeam membership

Kenya Airways said it is a member of the SkyTeam alliance, and the loyalty program will continue to apply on all the partner flights.

Frequent Flyers will therefore continue earning and redeeming miles, while Elite Plus travelers are benefiting from SkyPriority services.