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‘$1.5m spent on airports upgrade’

NANCY MWAPE, Livingstone
ABOUT US$ 1.5 million has been spent by Government to upgrade the four international airports and improve aerodromes runways in rural areas to tarmac.
Addressing aviation experts that met in Livingstone on Thursday, Civil Aviation Authority director general Gabriel Lesa said Government will improve the safety of runways and airports in the country.
“Most of the rural aerodromes that used to be grass runways are being upgraded to bituminous standard, which means that capacity and safety margins are being improved…We have spent about US$1.5 million,” he said.
Government is implementing the Abuja Declaration on aviation safety that among other things seeks to reduce runway related accidents.
Mr Lesa said Government is also supporting transformation of the Department of Civil Aviation into an autonomous civil aviation authority.
“Runway safety forms one of the targets of the Abuja Declarations. Government remains steadfast and resolute in supporting the initiative,” he said.
On the European Union (EU) aviation ban, Mr Lesa is confident that the embargo imposed on Zambian planes from flying into the Euro zone airspace due to poor safety standards will soon be lifted.
He said the authority is in talks with the EU and hopes that by March next year, local planes can start flying into Europe.
The Civil Aviation Authority is expected to be fully operational by January next year.
“The EU wants to see evidence of the transformation of the Civil Aviation Authority which has started,” he said.