Etihad signs codeshare deal with South African budget airline kulula

Etihad Airways on Monday signed a codeshare deal with South African budget carrier kulula, which is expected to boost tourism between the two countries.

The UAE carrier will place its EY code on kulula’s flights between Johannesburg and the coastal cities of Cape Town, Durban, George and East London.

The partnership will allow passengers to through check-in and baggage transfer to their final destination.

The sale of tickets started on Monday for travel from October 30.

“Etihad wants to tap into the high-yield seasonal tourism traffic here, particularly because there are so few options for customers in niche markets such as this,” according to Saj Ahmad, an analyst at StrategicAero Research in London.

The deal fits in with Etihad’s strategy of aligning itself with smaller carriers such as Air Serbia, Kenya Airways, Royal Air Maroc and equity partner Air Seychelles.

“[But] any success with kulula could come at the expense of South African Airways, which has a partnership with Etihad as well,” Mr Ahmad said.

Kulula shares the low-cost aviation market in South Africa with Mango Airlines, a subsidiary of South African Airways.

Eithad’s codeshare agreement with South African Airways has been in place since last year.

The new codeshare agreement with kulula “demonstrates Etihad Airways’ growing ambitions to strengthen our operations across Africa”, said Peter Baumgartner, Etihad’s chief executive.

Etihad currently serves 10 cities in Africa, including Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos, Cairo and Mahé in the Seychelles.

“[We] are excited about exploring additional opportunities to expand on the relationship,” said Erik Venter, the chief executive of kulula’s parent company Comair.

Comair, which shares a British Airways flight code, reported a revenue growth of 1 per cent and a profit decline of 12 per cent year-on-year to 193 million rand (Dh52.2m) for the financial year ending June 30 owing to a weak rand. In the past financial year, its profit declined 17 per cent year-on-year to 218m rand.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority opened its 11th overseas office in Johannesburg last year. Since then guest arrivals from South Africa have risen. Last year, 26,147 visitors came to the UAE, up 42 per cent from 2014.

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