Kenya Airways applies for extended immunity over KLM-Air France deal

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(eTN) – Information was received from Nairobi that Kenya Airways has applied to the country’s competition authority for extended exemption of their partnership deals with KLM/Air France, to prevent competitors from filing complaints about elements of their joint venture agreements.

The two airlines are flying in codeshared operations to Amsterdam and beyond, and the exemption, if granted as expected, will cover mutually-agreed ticket prices as well as capacity alignment depending on demand.

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The first of these agreements goes back to the days when KLM came on board as a major shareholder following the privatization of the airline back in 1996 and since then has been regularly renewed, providing substantial benefits to travelers as well as to the two airlines, which are now even partnering in their frequent flyer program, “Flying Blue.” Kenya Airways is also the only African member of the KLM/Air France-inspired Sky Team global aviation alliance, which is considered the number two behind Star Alliance but ahead of OneWorld and of key importance for channeling alliance traffic via Nairobi into Africa. The membership in Sky Team is in fact considered a key factor for Kenya Airway’s success in rolling out across the continent after serving notice to fly to every commercial and political capital in Africa by the end of next year, serving as sole hub so far for all other Sky Team member airlines flying either into Nairobi directly or else feeding traffic into Kenya Airway’s and KLM’s flights from Europe and Asia.

Such exemptions, while already criticized in Nairobi by competitors, are, however, not new and are certainly also in place for partnerships in Europe and North America, where for instance the BA/AA cooperation is exempted from certain aspects of anti-monopoly regulations and laws as are similar deals between LH/UA covering flights across the North Atlantic.