Government has commended Zambezi Airlines for reviving the airline hanger that had remained a white elephant since the closure of Zambia Airways in 1994.
Communications and Transport Minister, Geoffrey Lungwangwa said government has opened up opportunities for the private sector to thrive in the aviation industry.
Prof. Lungwangwa was speaking in Lusaka today when he launched the Zambezi Airline hanger at the Lusaka International Airport.
He said the challenge is on the private sector to take advantage of the available opportunities and invest heavily in the sector for it to continue expanding.
He stated that since the liquidation of Zambia Airways 17 years ago, a number of private airline companies have been set up in the country to fill the void left by the closure of the national airline.
Prof. Lungwangwa said government was committed to ensuring that private investors compete favourably with their foreign counterparts.
He said Zambia has made major strides in the aviation sector with the sector ranked among the best in the world.
The Minister said Zambia has developed a cadre of skilled and professional human capital to run the aviation sector that could compete with the best in the world.
Prof. Lungwangwa has commended Zambezi Airlines for refurbishing the airline hanger at a substantial cost.
He said once fully operational, the hanger will contribute immensely to strengthening the country’s economy by enhancing job creation and bringing in the much needed foreign exchange.
Prof Lungwangwa stated that a number of Zambian engineers that had left the country after the liquidation of Zambia Airways are returning back home to contribute to the restoration of Lusaka as a maintenance centre.
“In 1994, Zambia took a very difficult decision to liquidate Zambia Airways which rendered the hanger idle. Over the last 17 years or so, a number of private airlines were set up to fill the void left by the closure of Zambia Airways,” he explained.
He however said unfortunately, most of the airlines that were set up have been sending their aero planes to South Africa for maintenance.
“When Zambezi Airlines came on the scene in 2008, they also tool a similar route but I am happy that this has changed. Government is indeed delighted that Zambezi Airlines has decided to lease the facility and invest a substantial amount of money to refurbish and equip the facility,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Zambezi Airlines Chairman Maurice Jangulo disclosed that his company spent a total of US$400,000 in refurbishing the facility.
Dr. Jangulo said Zambezi Airlines also commenced a retooling exercise for the facility at the cost of over US$300, 000.
He said following the granting of the Aircraft Maintenance Organisation (AMO) in March this year, Zambezi Airlines will carry out line maintenance services and A-checks.
And Dr. Jangulo said Zambezi Airlines will on June 30 this year launch a Livingstone-Cape Town flight.
He thanked government for creating an enabling environment for private sector investment in the aviation sector.
He also explained that Zambezi Airlines has an average of 10,000 passengers in-flight per month which he said is expected to increase to 15, 000 in the next six month.
Dr. Jangulo reaffirmed his company’s commitment and resolve to serving customers beyond their expectations in future.
And Zambezi Airlines Chief Executive Officer Wilfred Amstelveen said it was important for Zambia to have its own maintenance centre for its aircrafts.
Mr. Amstelveen said this would ensure that regular checks are carried out on aircrafts.
He said a simple oversight in the aviation sector can results into fatalities.