ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has granted Mahogany Air an air operators’ certificate (AOC) to fly to various destinations in the world and contribute to economic development.
Recently, a consortium of investors from Zambia and Dubai invested US$23 million for the recapitalisation of Mahogany Air to help it resume operations after it was suspended three years ago.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) director general Gabriel Lesa said Mahogany Air becomes the second local airline to be given an operating licence in Zambia, after Proflight.
Mr Lesa said during the hand-over of the AOC to Mahogany Air that the authority is committed in creating an enabling business environment to help motivate more airlines to invest in the aviation industry.
He said CAA will continue to conduct audits of potential investments in the aviation sector to maintain high standards of safety and security, to create confidence among the public and stakeholders.
“Before the CAA can issue an AOC, it is our responsibility to ensure that applicants that want to conduct commercial air transport operations under CAA regulations undergo the five phase certification process.
“The certification process may appear to be a complex undertaking, particularly for the first time operators, but, it is a vital process that ensures that the authority only grants the certificate after thorough assessments have been done and this takes quite some time,” Mr Lesa said.
The certification process is designed to ensure that prospective AOC are capable of fulfilling the duty and holders understand the rule.
And Mahogany Air chief executive officer Jim Belemu is happy that the airline has finally acquired the AOC to fly across the world.
Mr Belemu, however, said currently the entity’s interest is to fly domestic routes such as Livingstone, Kasama, Chipata, Solwezi and Ndola, among others.
He said the airline will continue to explore other routes as it waits for two more aircraft to arrive in the country soon.
Mr Belemu said Mahogany Air was encouraged to invest in the aviation industry due to Government’s patriotic stance on infrastructure investment in the sector.