THE Zambia Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) has bemoaned the suspension of Zambezi Airlines and called on the airline to quickly put its house in order and re-apply for an operating licence.
In an interview, ZACCI president Geoffrey Sakulanda said the suspension of Zambezi Airlines will deprive Zambians of an airline that offered low rates to business travellers.
Mr Sakulanda said the airline has contributed to the creation of jobs and tax contribution to Government despite the money it owes National Airport Corporation Limited (NACL).
Zambezi Airlines owes NACL K10 billion.
He said the suspension of the airline will not just affect travellers but also the different suppliers that did business with it. He said globally all international airlines are facing problems and are surviving because of the support from their respective governments.
“Clearly, running a business is very expensive, it is unfortunate that this has happened to Zambezi Airlines. The challenge must have been accessing funds in Zambia and borrowing externally is difficult,” he said.
Mr Sakulanda said the best way to sustain the operations of local airlines is either through partnership with international airline brands or Government pumping in money to save them from collapse.
He cited South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and British Airways as some of the airline that are supported through public funds. “You cannot finance an airline from own resources, it’s expensive and given the number of travellers in Zambia, airlines sometimes just burn fuel. It’s impossible,” he said.
Meanwhile, a check at the Zambezi Airline offices at Kenneth Kaunda International airport found workers locked up in a meeting with the airline’s chief executive officer Maureen Dlamini.
And Ms Dlamini said she could not talk to journalists because the airline chairman Maurice Jangulo had earlier issued a statement. She said the meeting was not open to the media.
“I can not talk to you, the chairman issued a statement on ZNBC (Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation) news last night (Sunday) and we will maintain that statement,” she said.
Some workers who sought anonymity said management has assured them that, their jobs are secured as management engage Government on the way forward.
On Sunday, Dr Jangulo told ZNBC that Zambezi Airline has learnt with shock about Government’s decision to suspend its air operating certificate but is working round the clock to ensure that its licence is re-installed.
Government over the weekend suspended Zambezi Airline operator certificate citing serious safety concerns and that it will soon institute a tribunal to make inquiries on the airline’s operations.
Meanwhile a passenger, Violet Nakamba who was supposed to fly to Harare this morning, described the services of the airline as pathetic. “I was supposed to fly to Harare for a meeting which starts tomorrow (today) but I have been inconvienced. I will fly via South Africa and it will take me four hours to Harare instead of one hour,” he said.
Ms Nakamba said it is sad that many Zambian do not support local industries and products due the poor services and standards.
[Zambia Daily Mail]