Struggling state-run airline South African Airways (SAA) is in talks with Air China Ltd and HNA Group's Hainan Airlines Co to set up a West Africa-based hub or even sell a stake in the company, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.
An outright purchase of a stake seems unlikely, although the talks may yield deeper technology cooperation between the carriers, Bloomberg said.
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Establishment of a West Africa-based hub would help counter competition from fast-growing Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise and Kenya Airways Ltd, while providing access to the continent that feeds China with most of its natural resources requirement to keep its economy running, Bloomberg said.
Last year, South Africa's Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown said the government would consider a strategic partner for SAA, after injecting the airline with two bailouts worth 10 billion rand ($829.36 million).
(READ MORE: S.Africa would consider strategic partner for SAA: minister)
SAA, Hainan Airlines and Air China could not be reached for comment outside regular business hours.