Transport and Aviation

Kenya shines as South African Airways loses award


Zuma, Gordhan fight may be rekindled

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By Nsikan Ikpe


The long-running troubles besetting South African Airways, SAA have finally blown onto the global stage with its losing the first position in the 2016 performance tally of African airlines to Kenya Airways, KQ in the annual Skytrax rankings.

The loss would be particularly very painful to the airline which had been taking up the award in the past 22 years.

On the political front, it will invariably put some more pressure on the beleaguered ANC administration in the country which suffered very disappointing losses in the municipal polls held earlier in the month.

It will particularly be recalled that the troubles of the rainbow nation’s loss-making airline has continued to pitch President Jacob Zuma against his Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan over the latter’s insistence on curtailing some of the fiscal excesses that the airline’s board had been allegedly mired in.

Skytrax published its latest survey, with eight African Airlines falling into the ‘Top 100’ global airlines in the 2016 World Travel Awards.

The Skytrax awards are reputed to be a global benchmark in quality and safety and are widely known as the “Passenger’s Choice Awards” due to their selection process.

At end of it all, Emirates emerged as the first airline of choice, followed by Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines Cathay Pacific and ANA All Nippon Airways. Coming sixth was Etihad Airways, then Turkish Airlines, EVA Air, Qantas Airways and finally Lufthansa.

Under the scheme, consumers from across the globe take part in a satisfaction survey to determine the winners; no external sponsorship, payment or influence alters the results.

The Nairobi-based carrier unseated South Africa Airways as Africa’s best airline, an award SAA had taken home for 22 years in a row. The ceremony was held at Farnborough Airshow in the UK.

On its part, another leading African carrier, Ethiopian Airlines won Best Airline in Economy award.

KQ also won the ‘Best in Business Class’ award, clinching both the overall and luxury travel recognition, something many airlines struggle to do.

Chris Diaz, the KQ Marketing Director, said, “This is sign enough that we are putting the dark clouds behind us to cruise unimpeded as Africa’s most respected airline.”

Air Mauritius and Air Seychelles are beaten only by South African Airways on Skytrax’ list. Experts say their prominence as travel leaders is due to their luxury locations and high levels of international tourism which drives expectations and assures quality.

Air Mauritius has code sharing agreements with Emirates and other world class airlines. Air Seychelles boasts Etihad as a stakeholder.


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