South African regional airline SA Airlink has reached an agreement with Namibian state holding company TransNamib on taking a large stake in start-up Kalahari Express Airlines. The agreement still needs to be ratified by both boards.

Trans Namib rescued the airline in June after the original shareholders failed to raise the necessary finance to cover loan guarantees. With TransNamib holding a 51% stake, SA Airlink is likely to acquire the remainder, leaving the airline under Namibian control.

SA Airlink chief executive Rodger Foster, who has a 25% shareholding in the carrier, says that it is planning to start the Kalahari Express operation with two ex-Ansett Fokker F28s next February. Initial services are planned to link Windhoek's Eros Airport with Cape Town and Johannesburg.

SA Airlink, which is operating 12 British Aerospace Jetstream 41s and two Dornier 228s on behalf of South African Airways and the Swaziland Government, is considering moving up to jet equipment. The Embraer RJ-135 and Fairchild Dornier 328JET are being evaluated to facilitate its growth plans in the 30-seat market.

Source: Flight International