Friday, March 29, 2013

► ZAMBIA: Mukuba Airlines, Zambia's first LCC, set to start ops in coming months with ATR42s, 72s.

ZambiaMukuba Airlines, dubbed Zambia's first Budget airline/LCC, is set to start operations in the next few months, in time for the XXth United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly to be jointly held in Livingstone & Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe in August this year.

Livingstone's new international airport terminal, Zambia
Livingstone's new international terminal
Using start-up capital of "between USD5 - 15million", the venture is the brainchild of  unnamed foreign investors, Zambian aviation professionals based overseas and local business men whose aim is to revolutionize air travel in the landlocked southern African country, by making it more accessible to ordinary people.

At a recent press conference held in Lusaka, Mukuba Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mwansa Chalwe, said:
Research findings were that the Zambian macroeconomic indicators had been consistently good over a time frame of ten years. The research concluded that it is the good macroeconomic and stable political environment of the country that is attracting many foreign investors to Zambia in order to seize investment opportunities in various sectors including tourism,” he said.
Source [LusakaTimes]

Mukuba says it will initially launch operations from its Livingstone base, and will focus on the domestic travel market using ATR 42-500 and ATR 72-500 aircraft, with maintenance to be taken care of by Air Botswana (BP).

The airline will be going head to head with Proflight Zambia (P0), the sole surviving operator in Zambia since Zambia Airways (QZ)'s dissolution in 1995, which has seen 3 domestic/regional carriers come and go.

In a recent interview, Proflight's Chief Executive Officer, Captain Phil Lemba, and Commercial Director, Keira Irwin, stated that, while their carrier had experienced strong growth over the last three years (10%), high airport taxes and the lack of a coherent national aviation policy, as well as a huge influx of foreign carriers into three of the country's four major international airports, were negatively affecting the local aviation scene. 

They argued that to grow the domestic travel market both for business and tourism, higher passenger volumes are needed, which would in turn bring down costs owing to economies of scale. 

In their opinion, if Zambia restricted international operators to serving only Lusaka, then that would funnel more passengers through local operators, increasing local traffic and allowing them to deploy larger aircraft.