Zambia Airways (ZN) has resumed flights to Zimbabwe after 27 years. The airline was relaunched in December 2021 and has re-entered the regional network with flights to Harare.
The maiden 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.
New regional routes for airlines
Zambia Airways has been in liquidation for over 25 years but resumed operations on December 1, 2021, with the assistance of Ethiopian Airlines and the Zambian Industrial Development Corporation. Since then, it has been operating flights on domestic routes.
Last month, the Zimbabwe Civil Aviation Authority (CAAZ) granted Eswatini Air and Zambia Airways two Foreign Operator Licenses (FOPs). This gave ZN the go-ahead to operate a scheduled flight to Harare, which saw its re-entry into 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.
Many stakeholders have been involved in aviation development in Africa. In line with the African Single Air Transport Market (SAATM) and Open Skies Policy, Zambia Airways is expanding its wings and promoting intra-African connectivity.
As the industry has almost fully recovered from the pandemic, it is the right time for African airlines to step up and serve the continent. About 70% of African air travel is served by international airlines. LUN-HRE is dominated by Qatar Airways and Emirates, which operate five and seven flights weekly.
Photo: axell.rf / Shutterstock
Launching Zambia Airways flights could significantly increase trade, tourism and business opportunities between the two neighboring countries. At an event following the airline’s landing, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development told NewsDay;
“Indeed, our two countries are Siamese twins who have a lot in common. Let us remember that the opportunities offered by Zambia Airways create ample scope for further enhancing our cooperation in the field of aviation and deepening people-to-people links, as this is a catalyst for stronger ties between our two countries. In order to achieve the desired middle-income status and fully modernize our country, it is imperative that we develop a reliable, adequate and suitable aviation relationship.”
Zambia Airways expansion in the near future
The airline is pleased to have launched its first regional route since restructuring. The route is expected to be in high demand; hence, the airline plans to launch a frequent flyer program in the near future. The program will be known as Zambezi Miles, which will allow travelers to earn and spend rewards on Zambia Airways flights.
The Zambian government is eyeing collaborations with other airlines operating the LUN-HRE route and the fifth freedom flight to South Africa. Speaking at the welcoming ceremony, Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Logistics of Zambia, Stephen Mbewe, said;
“We are very grateful for our two airports working together, in a collaboration that we have done for many years, we have seen this during British Airways used to fly here, Kenya Airways, and now we are seeing it with Qatar and Emirates. . We hope that the cooperation will continue with several other airlines, but we also have esteemed ministers. We want fifth freedom to do the Lusaka-Harare-Johannesburg route.”
Both countries are active members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which was founded in Lusaka, Zambia. SADC nations have substantial travel and trade partnerships, which the airline can leverage to enhance its regional connectivity.