GHANA – South African Airlines (SAA) and Ghana’s regional carrier, Africa World Airlines (AWA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen their commercial ties.

SAA which already works closely with AWA is looking to boost its airline routes through a relationship that promote synergies that include code sharing, franchising, and any other related projects.

Speaking after signing the agreement at the Ministry of Aviation in Accra, Mr John Xiaoyi Quran, Chief Executive Officer of AWA said the signing of the agreement was a milestone for the airline in the bid to deepen its partnership with SAA.

SAA plans to increase traffic on its successful US route as well as achieve a stronger market foothold in West Africa through AWA.

He said AWA had invested heavily in safety, becoming the first and only domestic airline in Ghana to obtain the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification, which was a standard for all major international airlines.

Both the airlines would, through close cooperation coordinate effective use of their resources, such as human resource, training, safety management, among others.

AWA, which is adding frequencies on its routes and will add an Accra-Abidjan flight in April, said it is seeing significant growth in regional passengers using Accra as a transit point.

The airline also connects four smaller cities in Ghana, including mining hub Kumasi, with Accra.

SAA on the other hand, would bring the capabilities of a strong brand as well as its trunk network to feed AWA’s network in West Africa.

“I am very confident that through this cooperation, Africa World Airlines and South African Airways will benefit,” said Mr Vuyani Jarana, Chief Executive Officer of SAA.

“If we can pool our buying power together; whether we’re buying fuel or negotiating airport charges, these are the things we have to collaborate on.

“We have teams that are committed to do the work and we want to focus on execution, we will see rapid execution of projects.”

According to Business Day, the Johannesburg-Accra-Washington route is by far the most lucrative of SAA’s international routes.

The partnership with AWA, which also flies to Lagos in Nigeria, Freetown in Sierra Leone and Monrovia in Liberia, will allow increasingly seamless transfers to North America and the rest of SAA’s international destinations.

SAA which is already struggling in its operations is looking to grow its traffic around the African continent in a bid to turn its fortunes around.

Last month, SAA secured US$247.01 million (R3.5 billion) in funding to keep afloat until June.

The cash-strapped airline has embarked on a turn-around strategy which aims to bring the business to breakeven by the 2021 financial year.

Part of its turnaround efforts include the scrapping of one Johannesburg-Heathrow flight, new supply chain policy which has realized US$21.09 million (R299m) in cost-savings and improvements in technical, domestic, regional and other international routes.

The airline holds US$895.63 million in debt, all guaranteed by the government.

Last year, it received US$352.94 million (R5 billion) from the government to recapitalise its balance sheet and provide working capital to help implement its three-year turnaround plan.