Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

SAA plans to increase traffic on its successful Washington route through a new agreement with Africa World Airlines (AWA), a fast-growing regional airline headquartered in Accra, Ghana. 

The Johannesburg-Accra-Washington route is by far the most lucrative of SAA’s international routes, and the airline believes it can build Accra’s brand-new airport into a lucrative hub in West Africa. 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, the companies said.

Vuyani Jarana. Picture: SUPPLIED
Vuyani Jarana. Picture: SUPPLIED

The loss-making SAA, which recently received R3.5bn in bank funding that will allow it to continue operating until June, is looking for new partnerships to grow its passenger base on the continent and abroad as it tries to turn the airline around. It will add another weekly flight to Accra in April, SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana said.

While a previous attempt to develop Accra into a West African hub for SAA was unsuccessful, business-friendly policies that boost the aviation sector, as well as the new airport and related infrastructure have made it the most attractive option in the region, Jarana said.

SAA and AWA already work closely together on a number of fronts. The aim is to have a codeshare agreement in place soon, while the airlines also see opportunities to save costs through collective purchasing of, for example, fuel and catering services in Ghana.

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.

maraisj@businesslive.co.za