After years without a flag carrier, Zambia has re-launched national Airline, Zambia Airways and earmarked September to kick-start flight operations
Speaking at a news conference in the Zambian capital Lusaka on August 10, Board chairperson Bonaventure Mutale said the new national carrier will begin its operations on domestic routes to Livingstone, Ndola, and Solwezi, plus regional routes to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo (South Africa), and Harare Int’l (Zimbabwe), using a fleet of three leased aircraft including two DHC-8-Q400s and one B737-800, reported The Lusaka Times.
The aircraft are expected to be sourced from Ethiopian Airlines, which operates a fleet of twenty-five Q400s and seventeen B737-800s, according to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module. 25 cabin crew and five pilots have been trained and type-rated at Ethiopian Aviation Academy.
The Zambia Airways is a joint venture established in August 2018 between the Industrial Development Corporation Limited (IDC), which holds 55% shareholding, and Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa), with 45% ownership. Mutale said the shareholders had contributed USD30 million in capital towards the establishment of the airline.
Ethiopian Airlines, in conjunction with the Zambian Government, reached an agreement to re-establish the airline on the Zambian Day of Independence, 24 October 2018.In August 2018, all parties involved deferred the launch date of the airline to 1 January 2019.The airline has been in the works since late 2018 but has been delayed due to regulatory hurdles and later, the pandemic.
But the new airline will not be without competition. Two other airlines operate a similar domestic network as the newcomer, Mahogany Air and Proflight Zambia. While both these airlines operate smaller aircraft, they will pose a challenge in the short term, however, as ZN grows, it is likely to secure a larger market share.
The new Terminal Two at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka was formally commissioned on August 9, 2021, by Zambian President Edgar Lungu, who said his administration had invested more than USD1 billion in the aviation sector, ZNBC reported. The new facility was opened for international flights on August 5, 2021, according to a notice by the Zambia Airports Corporation Limited (ZACL). Domestic passengers will continue to be processed through the old Terminal One until further notice.
In welcoming the launch of the new additions, IDC chief executive Mateyo Kaluba said it would play “a catalytic role” in reviving the country’s tourism industry, which had been hit hard by the pandemic. He also emphasized the shareholders’ goal to operate the airline on commercial principles so as to achieve viability and a return on investment. “I strongly urge the board and management to manage the airline in accordance with international best practice. They have the responsibility to make Zambia Airways an airline that will bring pride and jobs to the Zambian people,” he stressed.
By Agnes Chioneso Msongelwa