Editor's Comment

Let Zambia Airways soar

The announcement that Zambia Airways will be officially launched on December 1 is good reason for joy.  It is also reason for serious reflection on management of public institutions.
The long-awaited launch is finally coming to fruition.
The announcement brings joy to Zambians for many reasons.
Since the coming of the new dawn administration after the August 12 elections, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the status of the national airline, which some sectors of the country thought was a drain on the country’s meagre resources.
This uncertainty has since been cleared.
The decision to restart a national airline – a joint partnership between Ethiopian Airlines and the Zambian government, came at a time when passenger numbers and revenues had nose-dived during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although there have still been success stories in Africa’s aviation industry, the airline sector has generally been one of the most vulnerable to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many are likely to welcome Zambia Airways (2014) Limited with fingers crossed, but this mode of transport is here to stay and it is important that Zambia has a share of this global market.
The key is to provide a service that will attract and sustain customers.  This is what many will be on the lookout for come December 1 when the airline takes off from its hub in Lusaka to domestic destinations of Livingstone and Ndola.
The airline says it will introduce additional domestic routes to Mfuwe and Solwezi and add regional destinations, Johannesburg and Harare, to its network within the first quarter of 2022.
Zambia has never had a national airline since Zambia Airways was liquidated in 1991.
Since then, the country has relied on private and international airlines to travel within and outside the country.
Any country worth its pride should have its own airline. But this is not only about pride. It is also about having an instrument for marketing the country – a platform on which the local and international citizen can be attracted to Zambia and its many areas of interest.
Many countries, for instance, use their airlines to market their tourism attractions.  The airlines are part of tourism packages.  These are money-makers for the countries.
Talking about tourism having great potential is not good enough.  Indeed tourism can contribute more to the country’s revenue basket, but mere talk will not generate that money.  Action will, and one such deed is having an airline.
Therefore, the generation of employment is not only directly through those engaged by Zambia Airways, but is also through the indirect jobs such as those who will attend to the tourists that will be flown into and out of the various destinations.
The success of this airline, therefore, depends not only on those that will be managing it, but also on those that will give it direct and indirect support.
Of course no-one is obliged to use the airline if they are not satisfied with its levels of service, but if it does meet expectations, that patriotism must show.
We hope a combination of good management and local support will help grow the airline for it to eventually open routes beyond the region to other continents.  This is possible, as has been proved by other relatively new birds in the sky, such as Rwandair.
It is a tough business but certainly one that should be worth the effort and, more importantly, is rewarding.

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