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South African Will Not Enter Equity Partnership With Qatar Airways

South African Airways (SAA) has confirmed that it is not about to enter an equity partnership with Qatar Airways.

A South African A340 on approach. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

Earlier this month, Qatar Airways made headlines announcing that it would be entering an equity partnership with an airline based in the southern part of the African continent.

Since that announcement, there has been speculation regarding potential airlines Qatar Airways might be investing in. Some have thought that the Middle East-based carrier might be seeking a stake in South Africa’s national carrier, South African Airways.

Not South African Airways

South African Airways’ Interim CEO, Professor John Lamola has confirmed that South African Airways is not about to enter into a transaction with Qatar Airways.

Speaking at an aviation summit in Johannesburg on May 22, Lamola stated that South African Airways was looking for a partner, but one who would respect the airline’s mission, according to Tourism Update.

“We are South Africa’s national carrier… and we’re looking for a partner that will respect the mission of SAA,” Lamola said.

SAA Seeks Capital Injection

Following South African Airways’ collapsed private equity deal with the Takatso Consortium, Lamola highlighted some of the qualities that the airline’s board was looking for in a potential strategic partner.

The most important one is for SAA to remain as a state-owned airline, with its focus on serving the country. Another characteristic of any potential equity partner, explained Lamola, was a capital injection.

“SAA requires a financial injection to recapitalise SAA in its second phase, where we will be moving into the modernisation of our fleet in line with the global requirements of decarbonisation,” he said.

Equity Investment for Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways is 100% owned by the Qatar government. It currently flies to 31 destinations across the African continent.

However, the airline has an appetite for growing its network in Africa. Acquiring equity in another African airline will allow Qatar Airways to boost its presence on the continent.

This other airline will complement RwandAir’s operations, enabling enhanced connectivity in the East, West, and North of Africa.

“We are at the final stage of an equity investment in an airline in the southern part of Africa,” said Qatar Airways CEO, Badr Mohammed Al Meer, speaking at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha on May 15.

He noted that the deal is likely to be announced in the coming weeks, according to Reuters

Growing African Presence

Qatar’s interest in establishing a hub and network in Rwanda started in 2019 when it expressed interest in buying a stake in RwandAir. The ailine will have a 49% share in RwandAir, a deal that has taken several years to complete.

Qatar’s national carrier has also channeled USD $1,3 billion into the construction of Rwanda’s new Bugesera International Airport as part of a plan to develop a regional aviation hub.  

Lorne Philipot


  • Lorne Philipot

    Lorne is a South Africa-based aviation journalist. He was captivated and fascinated by flying from the day he took his first airline flight. With a passion for aviation in his blood, he has flown to destinations in all corners of the globe. Lorne has traveled extensively and lived in various countries. Drawing on his travels and passion for aviation, Lorne enjoys writing about airlines, routes, networks, and new developments.

    View all posts

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