Zambia Airways the national carrier of the Republic of Zambia has obtained an Air Operators Certificate (AOC).
The AOC will pave way for the airline to prepare and finalize the commencement of air services.
During the AOC handover ceremony, Zambian Minister of Transport and Communications Mutotwe Kafwaya said, “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.”
Zambia engaged Ethiopian Airlines in the development and establishment of Zambia Airways. Bruk Endeshaw, Chief Executive of Zambia Airways said: “The certificate is a key element for the airline to proceed with its operations as the company prepares to re-launch.”
With Ethiopian Airlines partnership, Zambia Airways is likely going to establish a regional presence in Southern Africa. Currently domestic services in Zambia are dominated by privately owned Proflight Zambia.
Zambia Airways is expected to commence domestic flights from its Lusaka hub to Livingstone, Copperbelt and Kitwe.
On the regional front, Lilongwe, Kinshasa, Harare, Johannesburg, Dar es Salaam and Luanda are likely to be part of the Zambia Airways network.
In its previous arrangements, Ethiopian Airlines has provided Dash8-400s and Boeing 737-700 or -800. Previous reports have suggested that Zambia Airways will operate a mixed fleet of a B737-700 and Dash8-400.
This fleet composition will allow the airline to deploy the turbo-prop on domestic and other thin routes then the B737-800 on regional routes.
ETHIOPIAN GROWING PRESENCE
The launch of Zambia Airways will signal the growing presence of Ethiopian Airlines in the Southern African region. Currently both Malawian and LAM Mozambique have similar arrangements with ET and Zambia will become the third airline in the region to have an Ethiopian touch.
Zimbabwe is another Southern African country on the table with Ethiopia Airways. Zimbabwean officials have said they are considering ET as a strategic partner for aligning Air Zimbabwe. Early this year Air Zimbabwe sent one of its two Boeing 777-200 registered Z-RGM to Addis Ababa under unclear circumstances.
Officials have released contradictory statements on the why the aircraft is in Addis Ababa. It has been reported that it is there for maintenance/storage while others have said it is part of a fleet swap deal for smaller aircraft for use by Air Zimbabwe on its routes.
Discussions are in progress for ET to rescue a bankrupt South African Airways. If these talks yield any results it will be a huge statement of intent by ET in their quest to dominate the African skies.
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