With a strong emphasis on creating a more profitable airline network, Kenya Airways is promoting the concept of consolidation among East African carriers.

The call for an East African airline concept from Kenya's chief executive Brian Presbury comes after the carrier pulled out of the running to buy a 49% stake in Air Tanzania, which has been snapped up by South African Airways, pending approval from the Tanzanian government.

Kenya's proposal to create a new airline using its own aircraft and support services that featured Tanzanian branding was rejected. "They wanted to spawn yet another airline," says Presbury of the Tanzania authorities. "But why build a competitor that's similar to you?" he asks.

Presbury is frustrated at the continuing determination of small states to run their own - usually loss-making - carriers. This had led to the re-emergence of the idea that carriers from countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, and possibly Burundi, can co-operate more closely. "My idea is we will not have differing fleets, and we will bring about centres of excellence in our respective hubs," says Presbury.

His vision, which he admits has political will going from "hot" in some states to "cold" in others, is not aimed at Kenya Airways dominating any new arrangement. "I don't want the misapprehension that this is about it all being based in Nairobi," he adds. It is about co-ordinating schedules and ensuring the major capitals in East Africa are well connected, he says.

In the meantime, the sheer size and reasonable economic growth in Tanzania means that Presbury has not given up on moving in. Kenya has already had talks with Tanzanian turboprop operator Precision Air about a possible tie-up, and as a last resort would set up its own local carrier

Source: Airline Business