Johannesburg - The Competition Commission on Thursday granted South African Airways (SAA) an exemption to retain its membership of global airline grouping the Star Alliance.
The commission had investigated whether SAA's membership of the airline grouping was anticompetitive.
It concluded that the carrier's membership of the Star Alliance constitutes a "prohibited" practice. However, after analysing the facts it was satisfied that an exemption in this case is necessary for SAA "to ensure the maintenance or promotion of South African exports".
It has given SAA a conditional exemption for 55 months, ending December 31 2015.
The Star Alliance, which was started in 1997, consists of 29 of the world's top airlines including Lufthansa, SAA, Turkish Airlines and Thai Airways.
The three largest air passenger alliances are the Star Alliance, oneworld and SkyTeam.
SAA has been given exemption to participate in several products offering passengers special fares.
As part of conditions, SAA must submit an annual report on the revenue it generates by taking part in Star Alliance products.