Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group and Augusto da Silva Tomás, the Minister of Transport for Government of Angola sign the Management Concession Agreement. Image Credit: Courtesy Emirates

Dubai: Emirates said on Tuesday that it is strengthening its position in Africa with a ten-year management agreement with TAAG Angola Airlines (Linhas Aereas De Angola), the national carrier of Angola.

Emirates is appointing senior executives to oversee the restructuring of the state-owned African airline but is not propping up the carrier with capital, an Emirates spokesperson said by email.

The deal will give the Middle East’s largest airline greater access to the world’s second most populous continent and see it build on its network of 22 African destinations.

“Africa, and Angola especially, remains constrained in terms of route access, so there’s potential for Emirates to gain from increased coverage,” Will Horton, senior analyst at CAPA – Centre for Aviation, said by email.

TAAG’s Angola Airlines’ network to destinations throughout oil and diamond rich Angola, as well as to other African nations, could help feed traffic to Emirates. Both Emirates and TAAG’s Angola Airlines fly daily between Dubai and the Angolan capital Luanda.

But Emirates is not looking to change its single hub model. A spokesperson for the airline said there are “no plans for an Emirates branded operation in Angola.” Fellow UAE airline Etihad Airways has set up a branded operation in Europe through an equity stake.

Pointing to the reasoning behind the tie-up with Emirates, Hortan said TAAG has shown interest in being a global airline but that achieving it on a small scale on its own would be difficult at best.

In Tuesday’s statement announcing the deal, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline and Group said: “We see huge potential in Africa.”

“Emirates will continue growing our presence in Africa by opening new routes, increasing flight frequencies, and upgrading aircraft to meet the increasing demand. Exploring mutually beneficial agreements with established carriers such as TAAG Linhas Aereas De Angola is another key strategy,” he added.

The two airlines are also set to look at synergising some of their operations including codeshare agreements on cargo and passenger services and linking up their frequent flyer programmes. Emirates said it has also “committed to allocate its resources to staff and crew training.”

Emirates Group will cash in on Tuesday’s announced deal with TAAG Angola Airlines set “explore business opportunities” with dnata. The statement said TAAG Angola Airlines will look at “passenger and cargo handling, flight catering and travel services” from the Emirates Group unit.

Emirates once held a ten-year management contract and an almost 44 per cent stake in SriLankan Airlines. Emirates sold its stake and handed the management of the airline back to the Sri Lankan government in 2010. Since then, Emirates has said it is focusing on its own organic growth and is not interested in purchasing equity stakes in other airlines.