Saturday, April 20, 2024

Zambia- A Country without a National Airline


Boeing 747 MSN 19746 leased to Zambia Airways and delivered on 29 Sep 1988 with registration number N603FF. Details

By H. Muyeba Musonda

As the world celebrates the International Aviation Day which falls on December 17th, it is important to reflect on the aviation industry in Zambia and what it means to the traveling public and the tourism industry. Aviation experts will tell you that Zambia is well positioned for hub status yet the nation does not take advantage of this, hence Zambia has become a haven of foreign operators. Why would anyone in their right frame of mind let millions of dollars slip through their hands while they stand there and watch? This is a question that can be well answered by those who traverse the corridors of power with little knowledge about the importance of aviation and its advantage to the country’s economy. Having no national branded airline in a country is like losing your national registration card, which is one symbol of personal identification and status in your country. And this is what can be said of Zambia in the area of aviation. The once power house of emerging aviation nations in Africa stands like a destitute seeking someone to come to its rescue, because the nation chose to lose one of its symbols of national pride and status, Zambia Airways.

Zambia has since December 4th, 1994 been the prodigal child of the aviation industry in Africa. The loss of the national airline, Zambia Airways Corporation was a slap in the face of its employees, the travelling public and the nation as a whole. That day will remain vivid in the minds of many former Zambia Airways employees, because on that fateful evening, the then Vice President Brig. General Godfrey Miyanda went live on national television and made the most disastrous and nerve wrecking announcement ever made in Zambia’s aviation history. It was a day that would put the last nail in the coffin of the struggling airline, which had its DC10-30 confiscated in London by Chemical Bank for not servicing the loan. That announcement can be likened to a mother strangling her own child on its death bead when there is medicine on the shelf that can be administered to help the child get better.

[pullquote]Why would anyone in their right frame of mind let millions of dollars slip through their hands while they stand there and watch?[/pullquote]

Did Zambia Airways really deserve the liquidation? Or was the airline so insolvent such that it could not have come out such a state of “beyond redemption” or was it a case of bad management, or poor judgement on the part of the government of the day who happened to have been the major shareholders? The fact remains that Zambia Airways was never beyond redemption as many people thought at that time. Operational wise, it was better off than Kenya Airways, Air Tanzania and many other struggling African airlines at the time of its liquidation. What Zambia Airways needed first was a total commitment by the government to see the airline survive like the Kenyan government did for their near dead airline. Secondly, an evaluation of assets was required and a team of experts should have been appointed to help Zambia Airways partner with a European carrier to manage Zambia Airways for some time and to restructure it to meet the business requirement in order to survive and operate profitably. Had government taken the route of Kenya Airways, the nation would not be in a limbo of trying to create another airline 18 years after closing one. Today Kenya Airways stands out as one of the best case studies of airline restructuring in Africa.

For those that have followed the liquidation process of Zambia Airways and its after effects, you will agree that Zambia Airways should have been saved because the airline had more assets that would have offset the debt and put back the airline on the right footing. Not only did Zambia Airways have assets, but it was one of the symbols of national identity and pride. Let me underscore the fact that, had there been someone with a strong backbone in government to withstand the pressure of the donor community and prevent such a move, the airline would still be there. The other questions worthy asking is, if the Zambian routes were unprofitable as some people in certain quarters have suggested, why did other operators increase the number of flights soon after Zambia Airways closed? Why have we seen an influx of foreign carriers flying into Kenneth Kaunda Airport in recent years? Why did some countries ban airlines from Zambia to stop flying into their countries years after Zambia Airways was long liquidated? These questions need to be answered not from a political point of view but from an economic point of view. And the answer is simple. The Zambian “fruit” market is ripe and attractive. Hence it needs to be harvested by Zambians as well. Thanks to the management of the folk at the Department of CivilAviation who are tirelessly working to have Zambia reinstated as a safe country for aviation to reemerge.

[pullquote]The fact remains that Zambia Airways was never beyond redemption as many people thought at that time. Operational wise, it was better off than Kenya Airways, Air Tanzania and many other struggling African airlines at the time of its liquidation[/pullquote]

When one analyses deeply the after effects of the liquidation process, it is no rocket science to learn that those that made the decision to liquidate Zambia Airways never understood how to run an airline. Secondly they did not foresee that the absence of national airline was bad for the nation since a national airline is one of the symbols of national identity for many nations and the life line for the tourism industry and business sector.
The closure of a Zambia Airways was not only a slap in the face of the Zambian community, rather, the ramifications of its closure have become a cancer so difficult to cure as evidenced by its effects on the tourism industry, and the mushrooming of indigenous airlines that have failed to spread their wings permanently in the Zambian skies.

The decline in tourism numbers at the time of closure was due to one major reason, people did not have confidence in these airlines that sprung up and failed soon thereafter. The story of failed indigenous airlines in Zambia is nothing new, yet government fails to learn from such past mistakes by allowing individuals with no financial muscle to dent this lucrative industry. Most investors in these failed airlines did not have the financial muscle to compete with the likes of British Airways, South African Airways, Emirate, KLM and Kenya Airways to mention but a few, yet some of them were given a status of a flag carrier and they failed lamentably to keep the flag flying. Some other investors failed because of political interference which made them scared forcing them to pack up and leave. Don’t get me wrong, I support indigenous ingenuity and entrepreneurship, but some industries need government investment in order to survive. This is a common trend anywhere in the world.

Emphasizing on the importance of a national airline as a brand ambassador in his paper entitled Airline companies as national branding ambassadors, Andreas Markesenis states that, “for historical reasons, the national origin has often been very explicit in national carriers. In the past, most airline companies were created by the State and consequently instilled a sense of national pride. In fact, for many years no nation could graduate as a ‘real’ country unless it had its own national carrier . . . . Still today, nationally-branded airline companies have a role to play as nation branding ambassadors.”

Promoting Zambia as a unique tourism destination is synonymous with a national airline. Yet as a nation, our tourism agency Zambia National Tourism Board has failed to effectively promote our country in the absence of a branded national airline. Today, Zambia cannot compete with countries like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Kenya whose airlines give them an added advantage. Countries like South Africa have gone to ends of even advertising the Victoria Falls as being in South Africa, while the Zambia government sits on proposal papers of how we can form an airline with little action taken. Markesenis further states that, “being a branded ambassador or flag bearer is something that should be intertwined in national identity for those airlines who carry the burden to display the country’s national flag (or national colors) on theaircrafts as they become the pride and responsibility of being the nation’s tourism ambassadors as well,” like Zambia Airways was. There remains some serious decision making to be made on how we move forward in the coming years if we have to make Zambia an ultimate tourism destination and hub in southern African. The government needs to urgently set up a good team of aviation experts to study three African airlines in conjunction with a consulting firm such as Lufthansa Consulting for startup airlines, and come up with an implementable paper, which shall set a framework of creating a national carrier. Why Lufthansa Consulting? Lufthansa Consulting among many other consulting firms has scored great success of helping startup airlines on the African continent. Among them are CIEBA Intercontinental of Equatorial Guinea, Air Gabon and many more. Airlines to be studied could be Kenya Airways, Ethiopian and South African Airways who have undergone successful restructuring and their wings are still spread across Africa.

[pullquote]Countries like South Africa have gone to ends of even advertising the Victoria Falls as being in South Africa, while the Zambia government sits on proposal papers of how we can form an airline with little action taken[/pullquote]

The mandate of the team should be to study how theses airlines have been able to navigate the turbulence of economic hardship and how they have implemented bankable business plans, and how planning for partnership is vital in the restructuring stage. The team should be able to report back to cabinet within four months. This team should be allowed to make recommendations of a partner of their choice and then get blessings from government in form of a strategic business alliance with this cooperating partner that will see the Eagle fly the Zambian skies again. The partner will of course have to be reviewed by government for bilateral agreement purposes.

Who should head this project? My suggestion is that technocrats from the Zambian aviation industry including some former Zambia Airways personnel with a business acumen complimented by 2 senior pilots, 2 senior technical engineers, a senior official from the Department of Civil Aviation, an aviation lawyer, an accountant, a financial planner, an aviation economist and someone with knowledge flight operations. It should be a team that will have to work day and night and present a bankable paper that will be acceptable by the intended partners and financiers. This team should be constituted immediately to set the ground work for a thorough study and make a roadmap for which way forward. I can conclude by saying that there is an urgent economic need to establish a national airline. This economic need for such a venture can only be facilitated by the political will of the government. One can safely point to the fact that the strengths to address this need outweigh the weaknesses. For example, some strength are the projected growth in GDP, the emerging middle class in Zambia with more discretionary income, the emerging market scenario in the economic sector and projected growth in regional tourism, while the major weakness is investment capital and fear of nationalization. However, on the downside the new airline will still face threats of current competitors that have gained ground in Zambia. Whoever shall be in charge will have to come up with aggressive ways to gain market share for the new airline.

The writer is a former Zambia Airways and Aero Zambia employee who served these airlines in various capacities. The opinions expressed in this article are solely the responsibility of the author and do not represent those of his former and current employers. Constructive critics are welcome and can be forwarded to muyeba AT yahoo DOT com


  1. Very good articlethough it leaves me feeling heavy hearted at how our leaders have wrecked our country.It was obviously shortsightedness that lead to us losing our national carrier.Zambia is located in a strategic position and think of all the money that Zambia would have made if it had a viable national carrier like SAA.The people who will restore Zambia are mostly abroad and I think we should embrace Zambian expertise abroad and work together instead of demonising those who left.

    • Its not so rosy at SAA; just recently it was asking its gov’t for a bail out..that should tell you a lot about this sector.

  2. We need Zambia Airways back with its old colours but the Z should be painted the right way. It is a shame that our corrupt leaders destroyed our airline. I never got an ngwee from it but I felt pround as a Zambian travelling on it. How can small countries like Malawi still have their national airlines while some Zambians sit and discourage those who are working to bring it back. Shame on them.

    • Where are the trains.. UBZ buses. Zambia should restart a fresh. Money obtained from these sectors will be used to fund the airline.

  3. The market for aviation business in Zambia is huge. we need to take advantage now so that our national airline can build reserves and assets while the country is riding a good economic tide.On any given day, there are at least five flights daily from KK international to RSA. Most of these flights are full. Kwena even a blind person can run an airline with this kind of a market. can the govt wake up and move fast

  4. Zambia has no transport system one can be proud of. Zambia Railways is just a ghost.
    Who is to blame? The successive governments have failed and let down the country so badly.
    That liquidated Zambia Airways used to fly abroad loaded with traditional dancers accompanying KK wherever he chose to go and I doubt if the government paid.
    Real Zambians to take the country forward are not yet born.

    • I like your statement ” Real zambians to take the country forward are not yet born.” ndifye chambe bi puba. Tolerating  what is going right now pa zed, we are useless lot.

  5. It is very difficult to run an airline, and even South African airways is struggling. Kenya airways is on lease. The only viable airline in Africa is Ethopian airways which has a long history. It will be a mistake to get back to another parastatal. Even in UK parastatals failed to run railways and airlines. The way we are going , we may end up with UBZ

  6. @6. Jere true. What is the point of loss making state airline? Just invest people like Virgin and let them team up with local investors

  7. I am not a supporter of MMD but the liquidation of Zambia Airways could not be stopped. By the time of liquidation in 1994, ZA owed $110 million and the committee on parastatals’ report of 1988 made recommendations to that effect. There was rampant mismanagement besides operating unprofitable routes such as Lusaka/Bombay, Lusaka/Larnaca/Rome, Lusaka/New York, Lusaka Gaborone/Masapa. Of the eight domestic flights, only the Lusaka/Ndola/Mfuwe route made a profit. Delayed flights, due to late crew, over confirmation of passengers, fuel issues, repairs & service piled on. Complimentary and donated tickets to individuals, organisations, clubs etcnot to mention directors annual free tickets added to the problems, besides leasing and loan servicing issues.
    MMD govt pumped millions but failed

    • Didnt know that even Lozis can have information…..Everytime i see a Lozi what quickly comes in mind is the Barotseland imaginary State and how selfish these people are..we want to get you to vote for Mr. Sata next time..we need you to advise President SATA.

    • Bo Litunga, thanks for being well informed on the unprofitable routes which I totally agree with you but some issues that you have pointed out are not true. For instance, Zambia Airways crew were never late for flights.If at all anything they were some of the most disciplined crew when it came to time management. I worked in the Lordcontrol office foe a long time and on average Zambia Airways recorded an 85% on time departures. Complimentary tickets to staff are part of the ringe benefits that people who work for any industry enjoy, social responsibility of donating tickets is the norm in business. The fuel issue had something to to with the cost of the dollar during teh auctioning of the dollar by FEMAC (Foreign Exchange Management COmmittee) run from Cabinet Office.

    • Get your facts right. free or complimentary tickets exist in almost all airlines. Even low cost airlines such as easy jet have this perk to it’s employees. Complimentary tickets were only available for travel if the flight was not fully booked. Makes sense because you will be using the same fuel weather the flight is full or not. Zambia airways owed $10million and not $110 but had assets which exceeded this dept by far, including aircrafts which vanished after liquidation. ZA owned houses in Europe, America and some parts of Asia.They had a fleet of cars and many other assets which have vanished in thin air.

  8. Zambian airways can be revamp for government but should be run by an experienced private company. I would say employ a South African company that has run an airline company before. Its sad that we would have to hire a company from elsewhere rather than Zambians themselves. The reality is many Zambians do not guard things that we have jealously that’s why Zambia Airways got liquidated. How can families of the people working for the company be having most of their relatives on the plane at the same time. Most of the time. I read that 80% of the passengers were mostly relatives of the employees.This meant that the company was making a loss instead.

    • Trigo, it is not true that relatives of people working for QZ were enjoying joy rides on the flight. The fact is that Staff member are only emabrked at the end of all transaction depending on availability f space. That is why they are coded as P.A.D (Passenger Available for Disembarkation). What this means is that when a staff has been checked in and a full paying passeneger happens to show up, the staff member should be offloaded unless he/she is travelling on official duty.Further they are only a number of seats that are allocated per flight for PAD passengers

  9. The plane used in this article was never part of my article and the editor should not have used a B747 as Zambia Airways never had one in its fleet. The only big aircraft that Zambia Airways had beside the B757, was a DC10-30

  10. The article appears not to understand the workings of a free-market economy. Zambia does not need a national airline, it is well served by the several international airlines that already operate. The aviation industry is notoriously loss-making. The top 5 tourist destinations are France, USA, China, Italy and Spain and none of these have a government owned airline what they do have is good infrastructure multiple runway airports and an easy visa process. The decision to liquidate Zambia Airways was poor but a new government owned airline is not the answer. The set-up costs for one would be huge and you need to ask yourself why anywone would use a new GRZ airline and not Emirates, BA and all the international carriers which already have the ticketing and service facilities in place?

    • Great Kalu, WHile I appreciate the fact that there is what is called Free Market Economy, it is the same economics that teach Protectionism. You have pointed out France and Italy, did you know that for a very long Alitalia and Air France have been operating in red serve for the governments who have always bailed them out. Even in American all these so called succesful airlines have at one filed for bankrupcy which is a way of how government has formulated a Blind Bail Out System to defaulting businesses in America.

    • Mr Muyeba are you now saying that GRZ should start an airline in an industry that is notoriously loss-making? There is no business case for a national airline. Zambia is well served by numerous airlines, if the aim is to drive tourism trade to Zambia are you telling me that flies to Zambia are always full. I can go online now and get a ticket to Zambia if cost is not a factor. TO be profitable the airline would have to fly to other routes where is the traffic going to come from. Any new airline would be entering a very expensive and competitive industry. A better idea would be to look at improving the facilities at the various airports in Zambia. A new national airline is not the answer If you can give us a business case on how a new airline would make money I will withdraw my comments.

  11. Good English, but I must state clearly that the articles is not supported by numbers. I wish muzo could have provided market data and cost numbers to substantiate his claims. I think the best Zambia can do is to invest heavily in ground infrastructure rather than aeroplans. Build hotels, investment in tourism manpower/skills, eradicate malaria and enhance security, invest in IT to improve flow of information and marketing. Empower Zambians to collect forex for the government through eradication of corruptions and underground economies. I believe, after these things are well done, we can now think of A 380s with a Zambian flag. As for now, we will have plans to flow Sata and Kabimbi and their wives/girl friends around without any customers to buy the services.

    • Dogo, This article was not meant to be a quantitative document rather I was voicing out my opinion and reinforcing what people in Zambia are crying for. I do have data on passenger upfligt from Lusaka to all destinations from 1986 to date and i can prove that there was a decline in passenger load to various destination and also I can provide data on the net worth of QZ after liquidation if needs be

  12. Great Kalu…that is what I am saying as Dogo #13. That is it!!!!! Really some of these articles have no business sense. The guy is writing like he never flew around to understand how things work in the world.
    I am lead to believe he was bought by PF to write this clap. What do you think, Kalu?

    • Dogo you have hit the nail on the head, the main issue in Zambia is we have not yet gotten to the point to make decisions based on facts. This article while coming from a good point does not back up the need for a national airline with hard numbers. The world has changed and you have to think is how can a new airline compete against new carriers I fly back to Zambia a few times and its not like I am ever unable to get flights so its not a case of demand not being satisfied. For tourists the main thing is that it is difficult and expensive to get around our country most of our lodges do not have online booking and are not tied into the main tourism operators and do not offer package holidays which is pretty much standard. A new national airline will not solve these problems. 

    • Dogo, if you need a quantitative paper on which way forward I will more than glad to come up with one in the near future. For now I was just making a point on the need for a national airline so that people like you and I can set up a platform for such a discussion. I find most comments very useful for my next paper and I have taken note of all of them.

  13. Running an airline is not as easy as Muyeba wants to make it sound. As already stated by some bloggers, airlines are notorious for being loss making business ventures and Zambia being centrally located is right now well serviced by the many international airlines. We have to be more prudent with our national resources and work on revamping Zambian Railways & build the link Zambia 8000 roads than try to create another airline. Most national carriers are not as attractive as they appear in terms of the balance sheets. We don’t want day dreaming to mislead us again as #7 P. jere stated!

    • Well said Mundia, it is very easy for politicians to be generous with tax-payers money. People need to wake up and demand more the government does not have money and does not make money the only thing the government does is raise taxes from its citizens and the economic activity going on within its borders. As such as tax-payers we should first of all be very careful of politicians bribing us with our own money. A new airline is the least of our worries when education, health and transport are in a mess.

  14. Before closure of QZ there was a deliberate smear campaign which led creditors into believing QZ was beyond redemption. As the writer has correctly put it QZ had a better outlook than some of the African Airlines flying into Lusaka now. QZ had commenced transformation by 1993; reducing workforce by 1,000, removing unprofitable routes, changing staff travel. By mid 1994 QZ was meeting its own IATA bills without falling back on Government. But the more QZ worked towards sustaining itself the quicker the MMD put spanners into the works. The largest debt QZ had was for the DC10 but even that had been reduced by half at the time of liquidation. One of the major challenges QZ faced was to do with devaluation of the Kwacha in late 1980s and the gulf crisis, remember the weekly currency auction.

  15. Here is another individual overdosed by nostalgia like our president…running a national airline is not as easy as he/she makes it sound and someone of his background should know better. This is an industry that is not only a high expenditure industry BUT also capital intensive sector. ZA was poorly managed and could not even fill its seats with paying customers half the plane was filled with employees.
    Please stop flirting with this hideous idea and do not even think of risking taxpayers money to such a white elephant. Zambia can still position herself as a  regional hub without having a national airline by investing in airport infrastructure our KK International airport is not even on the top 20 busiest airports in Africa – where are going to get passengers from to board you planes?

  16. One other major challenges QZ faced was the cost of aviation fuel in Zambia. BA fueled in Harare, but QZ was compelled to buy from BP Zambia despite the cost. I am not an advocate of National Airline, but the message is that it should have been given an option to be transformed similar to KQ. The two airlines and owners (Governments) were given identical survival plans by speedwing management consultancy to privatise and leave a minority stake holding to Government. The difference is that the Kenyan Government adopted and Zambian shot it down despite having a better bankable plan with more assets. As it stands now assets of QZ have still not been fully liquidated and all creditors have been paid and former employees are due another pay pack. An airline which took 25 years to building

    • If a pragmatic plan were to be developed and made available for [public] scrutiny, that would be nice.But that seems like an idealist expectation what with the mediocrity of the politicians elected or appointed to office and most in the opposition. The opposition seems not to understand it’s role, bonse ba funa che ka poto mu government and seek, for the most part, self enrichment. We have elected officials who do not learn from mistakes by previous admins. They repeat them in some form or fashion. They have successes and for that we are grateful. But we can not be expected to be content with mediocrity.Maybe I am being too cynical, oh well, no vundu. Deal with it.

  17. No investor worth his salt today will part his money to invest in your airline given that it takes donkey years to get a return on investment….moreover it is a dog eat dog industry where your competitor with deep pockets like Emirates and KLM/kenya Airways will happily cut down prices to crash you. Talking of Kenya Airways its expanding its fleet by 3 fold in the region with its newly acquired Brazilian jets how do you propose to compete with that? And I haven’t even mentioned the high airport taxes in Africa.
    ZA like UBZ are gone get over it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May I also ask what the author is doing at the moment??

  18. #16 is a good boy. vey correct position. Airlines are not cheap. and wats wrong with flying SA067 and ET873 and BA2054 which most of us fly all the time??? Dont flood PF with too many requests. You are the same ones who want Kbimba prosecuted. very silly chaps



  21. Sorry meant 25 years to build. Jay Jay I am not for a national airline. Zambia without doubt needs an Intercontinental carrier including cargo. We should be focusing on how we can make this happen and look at past mistakes rather than dismiss the idea as we continue throwing our money into foreign airlines for travel and goods into Zambia.

  22. At the time of liquidation Zambia Airways owed the following:
    Unpaid IATA bills $3.7 million
    Unpaid aircraft lease $2.3 million
    Foreign trade creditors $17.4 million
    Outstanding loans on aircraft finance lease $36.9 million
    Outstanding obligations B757 operating lease $26 million
    Outstanding loans to govt K6.8 Billion
    Local Banks K2.2 billion
    Other local creditors K1.2 billion
    Look at the figures of monies ZA was owing as at 1993-1994 and at this time govt only owned 2% of the airline while 98% belonged to the creditors, therefore govt had a duty to the nation to do the right thing….which was to liquidate the airline….. much as we loved it and gave us so much pride

    • How much was QZ owed by debtors and what was the financial status with regards to asset base? best to provide both sides of the coin. How did the liquidator manage to pay off all the above obligations within QZ’s own resources.

    • Bo Litunga sha,
      It is sad to note that you fail to point to the fact that Zambia Airways had assests such as the Hotel in Mauritius, Ndeke House and it Annex, Ndeke Hotel, Air Crew Residence, Houses in Rome, Frankfurt, London, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Johannesburg, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and many other Stations including our own Chelston Green and Zambia Airways Compound and severa dotted in Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe. All these and two paid for B737s, DC8-71 and other technical assest such as the ATR Simulator which would have been transferred to ZASTI, the Hangar power plant and many more but were all sold for pennies on the dollar by liquidators.

  23. The author and zambians in general need to get off the fallacy that teaming up with European carrier is the panacea to success.Virging Nigeria’s link with Virging Atlantic failed,Ghana airways management by BA failed and Air TZ failed after SAA had bought majority stake.Managing an airline is notoriously hard and many dead airlines like TWA,Pan-Am,Swissair,Sabena and Olympic Airlines did not die due to political interference like many try to point as the reason for ZQ’s demise.

  24. One has to look closely at successful airlines like Ryan Air, South-west and Emirates…these have almost flat management hierarchy and adhere to very lean management principles;to the point where employees bring their own pens. You try running a show like that in a quasi government company like Zamtel or ZESCO where you as a CEO are inundated with job requests from high ranking politicians everyday. Try explaining lean principles to a politician like Sata who is only interested in Job creation over profitability…Zamtel is a typical example!!!

  25. The easiest thing to do was to float Zambian Airways, but the owners were greedy and wanted freebies from Mwanawasa’s government instead. Sadly, Mwanawasa died.

    • How you can’t float a company deep in the red; there are stringent checks and balances involved…c’mon..have you ever seen companies being sold for £1..well ZA was one of them a flea…watch the movie Wall Street (1987) and you will get a clearer picture.

  26. “Who should head this project?   My suggestion is that technocrats from the Zambian aviation industry including some former Zambia Airways personnel with a business acumen complimented by 2 senior pilots, 2 senior technical engineers, a senior official from the Department of Civil Aviation, an aviation lawyer, an accountant, a financial planner, an aviation economist….”

    There you have it author sums up the article – In other words author is suggesting that former employees of ZA like himself take up this mammoth task…FYI some of the successful airlines today are run by entrepreneurs who think outside the box….

  27. It is so heartening to read the mature and logical argument being put forward. Some of you may be shocked to learn that South African Airways was for many year gobbling up over a million rands per day. Last month when members of the board resigned and the CEO jumped ship the airline the airline needed 17 Billion rand to keep going. If this was in Zambia every newspaper would be screaming blue murder. Ethiopian Airlines operated to Lusaka at a loss from 1977 to 2007. Kenya Airways is just now going through retrenching, restructuring, down sizing and rigt sizing. It is the nature of the beast: appear very calm and graceful above water while paddling like mad under the surface.

  28. Breaking News;  Angola’s richest woman and serial entrepreneur, Isabel dos Santos is set to acquire a stake in private airline Halcyonair Cabo Verde Airways, nine months after the majority shareholder announced it wanted to sell up to 40 percent. [Source: Ventures Africa Magazine]

    This is the nature of this sector only investors with silly money or corrupt acquired money like Miss Dos Santos are making acquisitions; they majority want out…why don’t you approach her Mr. Author with your proposal?

  29. I wonder why writing now? when the matter was at hand, he was silent. Zambia must improve the railway line and acquire more trains and buses, these in return will help pump in the much needed cash to run the airline. There are many local travellers that go without proper transport. Bring back UBZ first.

  30. Ethopian airline started its operations in 1946 if not mistaken.But here in zambia everytthing was killed by kafupi wabufi.And we still have pipo saying pthat aviation industry is not viable.If the goverment of the day tries 2 do something some certain quaters of society will be quick 2 shoot down the ideas.we are lagging behind as a country interms of development bcz we are not dare devils.countrymen and women we cant reinvate the wheel we should jst copy what other nations are doing.

    • I am one of the people who will shoot the idea down if it’s an entity that has the grubby hands of gov running it. It’s not that we advocate wholly private ownership ( although that would be ideal in some instances such as ZNBC); rather private /public where gov has some %, foreign investors have a piece and the rest is owned by ordinary Zambians and traded on the LUsE.It’s a question of take the initiative to make bold moves to establish such an environment where the people, regular Zambians can take ownership and hence have a say. The discordant procession of actions by politicians from all these parties especially those in government is worrisome and annoying, but mostly frightening. Their idea of ‘development’ is lope-sided and sometimes redundant. 

  31. Haters: BBC says Katongo named 2012 BBC African Footballer of the Year! Go Zambia, go! He worked very hard. His achievements particularly when he played in Europe went unnoticed and overshadowed by “big leagues” coverage of Spanish, English or Italian football! Yet if you look at his footage in many youtube videos, you will notice that he was the unsung hero living in the shadows of great players like Drogba etc! Gob bless Zambia and thanks BBC!

  32. Isn’t it shocking that a country with vast resources like Zambia has no government owned railway and bus transport besides the aviation ?

    • Having vast resources is embarrassing.Having vast skills or work ethic is far better.Why is Morocco richer yet its a desert?Why is UAE richer and more developed than Nigeria yet they produce the same 2m barrels of oil?Why is kenya richer than Tz yet tanzania is far bigger,has more arable land and minerals than kenya which is only 1/4 arable? Yes the answer is vast pool of skills is far better.

  33. Good article.Good effort.Thus why today our President can even travel economy class shame on us.We need to revamp it if we got to talk about tourism.You recoup from the in flow of people into your country.

  34. @37 Talksense its embarrassing to just have vast resources.Having vast skills or work ethic is far better.Why is Morocco richer yet its a desert?Why is UAE richer and more developed than Nigeria yet they produce the same 2m barrels of oil?Why is kenya richer than Tz yet tanzania is far bigger,has more arable land and minerals than kenya which is only 1/4 arable? Yes the answer is vast pool of skills is far better.What Zed needs before having an airline is a vast shift in work culture and vastly improved discipline in use of skills.

  35. i appreciate your concern and effort in writing the article,the succesful running of an airline is a very sensitve issue but we should also ask ourselves offcourse why and how the ailine dropped.
    on most of the london/newyork flights you would find 85% of the passengers would have travelled using the STA staff travell authorisation,members of staff would carry car engine blocks as hand laggage on to the aircraft,the cargo on the bombay flights were mostly for members of staff who did their makwebo,members of staff gave QZ tickets to their entire extended family,and many other discrepancies i wouldnt like to disclose,so i shouldnt be a surprise that the airline faded away coz honestly speaking i dont think african airlines operating at a profit like ethiopian airlines,could do such acts.

    • Mr. Jeffreys.. Your contribution is well articulated but run short of facts. First and foremost, any aircraft operates on the principle of weight and balance. Therefore, carrying an engine block as hand language is not true. Secondly, members of staff were only allowed 1 free ticket to the destination of their choice every year and two 50% tickets. If the family had the means to buy anything above and beyond this, they were free to do so.

  36. Zambia Airways was run by qualified and professional personnel. Only people in the aviation industry or ZAF would appreciate this. That plane flew everywhere and anywhere. Since the demise of the airline, Zambia airways personnel where snapped up by the competitors whilst others sadly passed on. It is not coincidental that nearly twenty years on, our government failed to start up a national airline. You need military style discipline to achieve this and that’s why KK appointed Military chaps to speed up the process of training indigenous Zambians to take over the operations of the company. The truth of the matter is that MMD chaps thought they had discovered a treasure trove in dismantling the airline.

    • Well Said FutureZEd, that is why we had the likes of General Haimbe-The best Managing Director on record thus far, Capt. Mulundika, Capt. Phil Lemba and Capt. Edmond Musonda Lazaro, Brig. Gen. Simbule, and several raning ZAF Officer who brought discipline and efficiency in Zambia Airways

  37. A very good article that desrves to be read by our senior government officials including the Presido.

    “As a nation, our tourism agency ZNTB has failed to effectively promote our country in the absence of a branded national airline.” This is very true. My dream is to be able to buy a ticket at a Zambia Airways travel agency office here in Germany and to fly home with our very own airline. This is a patriotic dream and I hope it comes true under our current government.

    • An an ideal world, that would be nice. The reality is that whatever government is voted into power can not, will not ,ever be able to run an airline, as  has been proven before. ZR, ZESCO, all government run, both mediocre to a fault, or are you content with their management?  British Air is privately owned but flies the colours of GB. US has American Air, privately owned. Reason being its cost effective for government NOT to run aviation companies, the public is more capable. 26% of  Kenyan air went to private hands back in ’96, while gov retains the remaining majority. I agree with #44’s comment to a point. I could say more…

  38. @ 42, Nine Chale, You have stopped your “good morning” stuff? You and the author are the same birds. As long as it supports PF all you can say is eya mukwai, eya mukwai. The author is a Congolise who crossed into Zambia through Luapula and grew up in Mwinilunga. He is writing in order to get a job like ZR director.

  39. There is a misconception that with a national airline, every Zambian and tourist would fly Zambian Airways. That is simply day dreaming. Some people want comfort and luxury while other will look at cost! And quite frankly these are areas that we can and will struggle with. The Govt does not have the financial capacity nor the skills required to compete and run a successful airline. If we can afford it, let’s not buy it! Simple..the one think that we need is a modern airport structure developed by the private sector and if we are indeed the “regional hub” then traffic will naturally flow in and Govt would be a winner all round.

  40. We had a national Airline, run by Gov. Anyone remember what happened to it? We Have ZR, things there are mediocre to say the least. We have a power company, run entirely by GRZ, well, those experiencing frequent ‘load shedding’ know how that it and probably accept it as part of the package they’re paying for. Most ideas floated by our politicians are impetuous, and that’s putting it mildly.I think an easier task would be to refocus the effort on tourism, fine tune it and then, maybe, can they think of an airline. Are we incapable of emulating and surpassing Kenya? Work on improving the airport in size and capability, then maybe you can bring up a flag carrier with private/public partnership.

    • Why just the east,have we emulated or surpassed Angola?.Kenya has its other companies spreading wings to S. Sudan,Ug,Tz,Rwanda and to Zed(kobil) If we are to umulate them then let it be accross the whole business spectrum not just tourism/airlines.

    • The examples we can emulate are not limited to just the east. We could learn something from every airline, failed or surviving as they all are. I mentioned pragmatism as a missing link in government, regardless of political affiliation. Take that stadium Sata ordered to be built. While it is new infrastructure, it benefits few. We seem not to have a balanced national agenda that seeks to address the needs of the majority. Why not build a hospital? Improve the schools? Where’s the push to improve teacher renumeration? The government is bloated with ghost workers and workers that are either unqualified or ill trained and lack the wok ethic to perform even level of productivity. Shall I go on ?

  41. Anyone remember RSK (South Korea) and it’s struggles? They were so poor and much like Zambia, perhaps worse but they, as a country worked with the cohesive goal of improving their circumstances. And now they rank among the fastest developing countries and rank high in innovation in tech, healthcare, have  vibrant tourism sector, Korean air is pretty spectacular (though it faces the same struggles other airlines face). Constantly they improve themselves. upgrading infrastructure, building new infrastructure. They successfully shifted from an import oriented society to one that exports a wide range of goods. Right now your device is probably running a component developed or built there. We still squabble on a known money pit. 

  42. A very well written article which hits home. The facts are as follows Zambia Airways was totally redeemable. The biggest debtor to the airline was the Zambian Government who would confiscate the DC 10 and take it where it pleased. Then came the Employees who would bump off confirmed passengers for their 5% pay and travel benefits. At the time of liquidation Zambia Airways had Debts of US 8million of which 5 million was owed by the Government. In addition the net asset base just in and around lusaka only at the time of Fixed Asset evaluation done by Zimco was over 800 million dollars which. This did not include the assets all over zambia. Prime real estate such as Ndeke Hotel now Chrisma Lodge, Ndeke House, Luxury villas in lusaka and flats where did they go.   

  43. The Crux of the matter is that Chiluba wanted to fly Birtish Airways and SAA and saw Zambia Airways as a dieing cow. And to get the opportunity to fly BA and SAA he eliminated ZA. It wasnt jus Zambia Airways that was a scam the whole Privatization Programe under Francis Kaunda was nothing but day light robbery and to break what ever Kaunda built for Zambia. Look at your mines, given away at peanuts, National milling (600,000 us for all 5 mills), Zambia Breweries, Zambia Sugar, Premium Oil. for Example how did Francis Kaunda sell national milling for 600000 us to the muzungus. 600000 for 5 mills, the property on Malambo road itself is worth 7 million usd. Crooks these MMD people. 

  44. And yes the 747 lease was signed by Zambia Airways but never delivered due to government intervention. The lease was later sold to SAA at a loss. 

  45. To start and run an airline is one thing. To close it is quite another.
    Who on earth decided to do that around the busiest time of year – when all other airlines are fully booked. All passengers are stuck with little or no alternative at Xmas.
    To get something achieved in Zambia or Zimbabwe was always a nightmare. Huge amounts of staff, except the one we needed. Secretaries never knew where their bosses were, or if and when they would be back that day to solve problems caused by themselves.
    Unlike at the home base, we never had issues with the European offices in Rome, Amsterdam and London. Small, very efficient, with a few loyal, multitasking and multilingual staff, each dealing with a large number of countries.
    With a similar set-up everywhere else closing could have been avoided!

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