Jana Marais Deputy editor: Business Day

More than a decade after former SAA CEO Khaya Ngqula first tried to establish a hub for the airline in West Africa, the carrier hopes a new agreement with an Accra-based regional player will help boost traffic and profitability on its most successful international route. The agreement with Africa World Airlines (AWA), which was born out of the ashes of Ghana’s failed attempt to run a national carrier in the 2000s, will boost SAA’s feeder network in the fast-growing region. AWA connects four smaller cities in Ghana with capital Accra. It also connects Accra with the regional capitals of Lagos in Nigeria, Monrovia in Liberia and Freetown in Sierra Leone. A flight to Abidjan in Ivory Coast will be launched in April. One of the main challenges facing airlines in Africa is that they fail to reach an adequate load factor — or enough bums on seats — to be profitable, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata). There are numerous reasons for this, including the high cos...

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