Gulf giants in negotiations with South African State Airline

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Two major airlines of the United Arab Emirates are in talks with South African Airways (SAA) to establish mutually beneficial relationships that can help both parties further business objectives.

South African Airways has said that this partnership and potentially others like it have the potential to help them financially grow and prosper. According to the UAE ambassador of South Africa, Mahash Alhameli as quoted by City Press, ‘South African Airways has said it urgently needs partners to revive its business’.

Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways

Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways have been in negotiations with SAA over the last several months. Per Alhameli, the talks between Emirates and SAA are being facilitated by the UAE’s embassy in Pretoria. He stated that Etihad Airways has been holding separate negotiations.

According to City Press, Alhameli stated, “It’s company-to-company talks. As ambassador, I’m facilitating that.”

The UAE will be investing up to $10 billion in South Africa’s economy; their focus will be on mining and tourism. The financial pledge was made during South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa’s, first state visit to the Middle Eastern country. The pledge is on par with a pledge made by Saudi Arabia; Ramaphosa had also visited Saudi Arabia earlier in the same week.

Lofty Goals of $100 Billion in Investments

Ramaphosa’s goal is to strengthen the country’s faltering economy by generating $100 billion in investment funds over the next five years. He succeeded Jacob Zuma as the nation’s leader this past February. There was an initial boost in business and inventor confidence following Zuma’s departure in December, but that increase has since declined.

As part of a very busy week of travels and negotiations, South African president, Ramaphosa, also visited Nigeria. He met with the nation’s leader, Muhammadu Buhari. Nigeria is one of Africa’s two largest economies; the other being South Africa.

The UAE is considering investing in the South African electric public utility, Eskom; however, those talks are not as developed as the airline negotiations, per Alhameli. The talks started before the UAE announced its pledge to invest. They are well aware of the financing needs for both Eskom and SAA, he continued.

About South African Airways

South African Airways is South Africa’s largest international and domestic airline company. It is headquartered in Airways Park in Johannesburg and flies to 38 destinations across the globe. As part of the airline’s recovery strategy, it announced this year that its low budget carrier, Mango Airlines, would be taking charge of many of its domestic flights.

SAA was founded in 1934 following the acquisition of Union Airlines by the South African government. It has since expanded to be one of the top airlines on the continent of Africa. It has operated independently since separating from its parent company, Transnet, in 2006.

SAA is a member of the Star Alliance Group and is a premiere provider of South African Air Travel. Voyager, the airline’s air miles programme, has air miles that are able to be accrued across the Star Alliance Network.

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