Zambia wants its wings back
Lusaka – The global economy and the COVID-19 pandemic be damned, Southern Africa’s aviation sector is pushing back.
In the same month that Air Namibia and South African Airways hogged the headlines in a negative way, a slew of international carriers announced their intentions to resume servicing regional routes, while Zambia declared its intention to revive the national carrier.
Zambia is forging ahead with plans to operationalise a 55-45 joint venture with heavyweight Ethiopian Airlines, which will see the flag carrier return to the skies after it was grounded in 1994.
Transport and Communications Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya this week said of the re-imagined Zambia Airways, “The establishment of the national airline and investments being made by the government in the transport sector are in line with the focus on the Seventh National Development Plan, and the National Transport Policy, which aims at transforming Zambia into a transport and logistics hub in the Southern African region.”
The country is investing in expansion of three airports as part of a US$1 billion investment plan.
However, some critics say that investment in a national airline should rank low in Zambia’s priorities, while others are cautiously supportive of the idea.
But Minister Kafwaya said: “Most (of the) challenging steps have already been handled and where we have reached is to officially launch the company.”
Overseas carriers are also seeing life in Southern Africa’s transport sector after the turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative effects on travel.
This week, British Airways-operated Comair announced it would resume flights on its regional network months after suspending operations.
Among services to resume soon is the Harare-Johannesburg route, starting March 28.
“We are delighted to reopen bookings for our services to Harare as part of the gradual ramp-up to our schedule. These flights will offer more choice for those customers who would like to fly to the regional destination from South Africa,” Comair executive head of revenue management Mr Desmond O’Connor told Tourism Update.
The company said the resumption of the Harare-Johannesburg service was a first step towards normalising wider regional operations
“We will soon reintroduce holiday packages through our tour operating divisions, which will mutually improve regional tourism between the SADC countries,” Mr O’Connor said.