26 June 2009
Zambezi Airlines has taken to the local skies, promising travellers value for money on flights between Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe and Livingstone in Zambia.
Attending launch of the airline’s new routes in Johannesburg earlier this month, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele the new flights would open doors to increased tourism and business between countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“This development has come to fruition on the connection between Zambia and South Africa and the SADC region as a whole,” Ndebele said. “Its operation is going to increase people-to-people, business-to-business and government-to-government relations.”
Zambezi Airlines chairman Morris Jangulo said the airline’s vision was to operate a world-class operation safely, reliably and efficiently, and maximise business opportunities between the two countries and the rest of the SADC region.
Jangulo cautioned, however, that apart from the global economic recession being experienced by most countries, the airline will not be immune to challenges of fluctuating oil prices and airports infrastructure challenges, adding that the 2010 Fifa World Cup was a litmus test for the aviation industry in Africa and the whole world.
According to a statement by the Department of Transport, the South African government approved its Airlift Strategy in July 2006, with the aim of liberalising local skies. Since then, there has been a 40% increase in air traffic frequencies being granted within the various bilateral air services agreements that South Africa has with other countries.
“Such an increase in air traffic frequency capacity is only viable when operators show confidence in the market and continue to operate flights to entry points,” Ndebele said. “In this regard, I must applaud the new entrant to our country, Zambezi Airlines.”
Ndebele said that sought-after Zambian destinations such as Lusaka, Ndola, Livingstone and Mfuwe had opened up over recent years, with South African carriers currently operating 58 flights to these destinations each week.
“The introduction of a Zambian designated airline into Johannesburg clearly demonstrates that there remains a continuing demand in air travel between South Africa and Zambia,” he said. “South Africa is as much your home as it is ours.”
Ndebele said it was necessary to encourage the further liberalisation of the skies, as this would lead to the introduction of more flights between countries.
At the same time, he said, “we must ensure that the safety and security integrity of the industry is maintained, and continues to meet the requirements for the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation.”
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