a handshake

The recent Codeshare Agreement signed between Middle Eastern Qatar Airways and South Africa’s Airlink on 27th June has set out plans to increase operations in South Africa and surrounding countries. 

A Qatar Airways aircraft | @Saif Zaman

This comes after the Comair disaster, a period of decreased domestic flights in South Africa during the pandemic. This new agreement is deemed to be a potential success for a number of parties, namely travellers, the airlines themselves, and the South African economy. 


New Beginnings 

This Codeshare Agreement entails exactly what has been missing post the Comair ‘crisis’ – extensive operations, fresh travel connections, and seamless travelling. Qatar Airways offers over 30 weekly flights from Doha, 21 of which are to Johannesburg, 10 to Cape Town, and four to Durban. From Doha’s Hamad International Airport South African travellers are able to reach destinations across six continents. Under this new codeshare scheme, Airlink flights from these three domestic airports will provide a ‘QR’ flight code enabling travellers to purchase connecting flights from both Qatar Airways and Airlink using one reservation. This will include straightforward ticketing, check-in, boarding, and baggage-check experience during the entirety of the journey. 


This increased connectivity does not stop at merely an international level. At a domestic level, Qatar Airways will operate flights to more varied destinations within South Africa in places like Ggerberha (Port Elizabeth), Hoedspruit, Skukuza, and George. Similarly, there is expected to be further expansion by Qatar Airways into several Southern African countries, including Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. As such, a total of 45 destinations in 13 different countries across Southern Africa will be connected with high-profile destinations in the US, Europe and Asia like New York, London, and Jakarta. This will all come into effect on 6th July, when codeshare flights are expected to commence dependent on governmental approval. 



Simultaneous Benefit for Travellers and Airlines

Travel accounts for a significant part of the South African economy, so this deal can serve to be a form of national resurgence. Particularly after the turbulent times during the pandemic and its aftermath which saw airline Comair facing financial issues resulting in its collapse. Kulula and British Airways flights have been grounded since early June, resulting in a 40% loss in domestic seat capacity which has caused disorganisation within domestic air travel. Despite all of this, Qatar Airways continued operations in South Africa which ensured persistent trade and essential travel. Hence this new agreement could potentially benefit Qatar Airways’ outlook in Southern Africa.

For travellers especially, this new agreement seems to be positive. In the words of Airlink CEO and managing director Roger Foster:

‘the deal is a significant development for South African travellers.’

Not only does it offer travellers a variety of travel choices, but also better services and increased connectivity in terms of travel routes. It essentially connects three South African cities with highly favourable destinations on six continents via Hamad International Airport.


Ultimately, the new Codeshare Agreement has put forward plans to increase connections from the Southern African region to key destinations across the globe, offering travellers a simpler option to connect flights. It could not come at a better time after a time of turmoil for air travel sparked by the pandemic. 


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