Malawi eyes Harare, Lilongwe flights

HARARE - Newly-formed Malawi Airline Limited (MAL) plans to resume direct flights between Harare and Lilongwe.

With the flights having been suspended in 2004 by troubled national carrier Air Malawi due to operational problems, travellers were currently connecting between the southern African cities through Johannesburg, South Africa, Zambia’s Lusaka and Nairobi, Kenya.

MAL — formed following the collapse Air Malawi — is a joint venture between the country’s government, holding a 51 percent shareholding, and Ethiopian Airlines as a strategic equity party with a 49 percent stake.

The resumption of the flights is on the back of Malawi and Zimbabwe signing a bilateral agreement, targeted at the aviation industry, at the recent Sadc summit in Lilongwe.

“Despite Air Malawi’s problems, government is working tirelessly to ensure that it connects direct flights with Zimbabwe,” Malawi’s Transport and Public Works minister Sidik Mia is quoted as saying by the Nyasatimes.

Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs minister, said the agreement will create capacity demand in the aviation sector.

“It will make travelling easy for the two countries while allowing greater market access to support growth and competition in the aviation sector,” he said.

The two counterparts however, did not disclose a date for the re-commencement of the direct flights.

Air Malawi was liquidated early this year, saddled by a $25 million debt, among other challenges.

This comes as several regional and international airlines have resumed flights to Zimbabwe after abandoning the country due to economic challenges and political instability in the past decade.

Recently, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) indicated that 13 airlines are currently landing at the Harare International Airport.

Air France-KLM resumed flights to Zimbabwe last year, after a 13-year absence while LAM Mozambique introduced Harare-Beira and Harare-Maputo flights.

South African Express Airways, South African Airways (SAA)’s sister company, has also introduced directed flights between Durban, South Africa and Harare.

Other airlines currently touching down at Harare International Airport include SAA, Kenyan Airways, Air Botswana, Ethiopian Airways, BA Comair, Air Namibia, South African Airlink, TAAG, Emirates and Zambezi Airlines.

Emirates introduced the Harare route in February while Zambezi Airlines resumed in May.

A number of airlines have been applying for operating licences to fly routes that Air Zimbabwe has long been failing to service.

Comments (1)

Amwene

Colonel - 21 August 2013

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