Xinyu Rao, the secretary of Air China's chairman, has denied media reports of Air China buying into South Africa Airways (SAA) while confirming that Air China is forming a partnership with SAA.
Earlier a source had said SAA was in negotiations with Air China and Hainan Airlines over a strategic partnership that involves the building of a West African aviation hub and an equity sale by SAA.
Ms. Rao said the Air China-SAA partnership is mainly related to market and air routes. The two carriers signed code sharing agreement on December 5 last year. In June, Air China will take over SAA’s Beijing–Johannesburg direct flight that SAA stopped serving since March. SAA said the partnership with Air China will help reconfigure passenger and transport service between the two nations and the surrounding region.
Air China has become active Africa in recent years. Air China's group communist party secretary Yinxiang Wang said Air China would restart its African operations this year, launching a Beijing-Johannesburg direct service on June 19 and a Beijing-Addis Abba route on October 25.
In July 2012, Hainan Airlines Group participated in its first African project and the first Chinese investment in African aviation by investing in Ghana-based Africa World Airlines. Two years later, Hainan Airlines has announced it would provide technical support and aircraft leasing services to Kenyan air cargo company Astral Aviation.(Translation by David)