After a twenty-seven years, Zambia Airways has resumed its regional network with three weekly flights to Harare.
The development follows the airline’s relaunch in December 2021 and has re-entered the regional network with a flight to Harare.
The inaugural flight took off on March 28 from Lusaka Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) and landed at Harare Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport (HRE), where a water cannon salute awaited. The flight was welcomed by government officials, news reporters, and various aviation, hospitality, and tourism stakeholders.
Zambia Airways had been liquidated for more than 25 years but resumed operations on December 1, 2021, with the help of Ethiopian Airlines and the Zambian Industrial Development Corporation. Since then, it has been operating flights on domestic routes.
Last month, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) granted two Foreign Operator Permits (FOPs) to Eswatini Air and Zambia Airways. This gave ZN the green light to operate scheduled flights to Harare, which sees it re-enter the international network after nearly three decades.
The 55-minute flight to Harare was operated on a DHC-8-400, the only aircraft in the carrier’s fleet. The airline will operate three weekly flights between Lusaka and Harare and plans to fly at least 1.9 million passengers annually by 2028.
Numerous stakeholders have been involved in the development of aviation in Africa. In line with the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and the Open Skies Policy, Zambia Airways is spreading its wings and promoting intra-Africa connectivity.
As the industry has almost fully recovered from the pandemic, it is the perfect time for African airlines to step up and serve the continent. About 70% of African air travel is served by international airlines. The LUN-HRE has been dominated by Qatar Airways and Emirates, which operate five and seven weekly flights.
Launching the Zambia Airways flight can significantly boost trade, tourism, and business opportunities between the two neighboring countries. At an event following the airline’s touchdown, Zimbabwe’s Transport and Infrastructural Development Deputy Minister said.
The airline is delighted to have launched its first regional route since its restructuring. The route is expected to have a high demand; hence, the airline plans to launch a frequent flyer program in the near future. The program will be known as Zambezi Miles, allowing travelers to earn and spend rewards on Zambia Airways flights.
The Zambian government is eyeing a collaboration with other airlines operating the LUN-HRE route and fifth freedom flights to South Africa. Speaking at the welcoming event, acting Permanent Secretary for the Transport and Logistics Ministry of Zambia, Stephen Mbewe, said;
“We are very grateful for our two airport cooperation, in the collaboration we have been doing for so many years, we’ve seen this during the time British Airways used to fly here, Kenya Airways, and now we see it with Qatar and Emirates. We hope the collaboration will go on with several other airlines, but we also have a plea honorable minister. We would like a fifth freedom to do the Lusaka-Harare-Johannesburg route.”
The two states are active members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), founded in Lusaka, Zambia. SADC countries have substantial travel and trade partnerships, which the airline can leverage to enhance its regional connectivity.