The government says it is not worried over the decision by Ethiopian Airlines to partner Zambia, despite having another partnership with Malawi in Malawi Airlines.
Recently, Ethiopian Airlines signed a joint venture deal with the Zambian government which will see the formation of a new airline in which Zambia will be the majority shareholder with 55 percent and Ethiopian will have 45 percent stakes.
In a statement, Ethiopian Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer, Tewolde Gebremariam, said the launching of Zambia Airways will enable the travelling public in Zambia and the Southern African region to enjoy greater connectivity options, thereby facilitating the flow of investment, trade and tourism and contributing to the socio-economic growth of the country and the region.
“As an indigenous and truly Pan-African airline, we firmly believe that it is only through partnerships among African carriers that the aviation
industry of the continent will be able to get its fair share of the African market, currently heavily skewed in favour of non-African airlines and play its rightful role in availing efficient air connectivity within Africa as well as with the rest of the world,” he said.
But Minister of Transport, Jappie Mhango, said Malawi is not worried over the decision by Ethiopian Airlines to partner the Zambian government.
Mhango said Zambia is a sovereign state just like Ethiopian Airlines is an independent business entity that makes its own decisions.
He, however, said in, terms of business, the decision is a good development as it will promote competition within the region.
“Being a land locked country, air fares for Malawi routes are mostly high because, due to low traffic coming into the country and the region. The competition that Ethiopian Airlines is bringing by operating in Zambia will, in the medium to long ter, see air fares going down,” Mhango said.
Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) Chief Executive Officer, Jimmy Lipunga, said the Zambian deal has no effect on the Ethiopian– Malawi agreement.
Lipunga said Ethiopian Airlines is better placed to Malawi’s neighbour.
In 2013, Malawi also entered into a partnership agreement with Ethiopian Airlines that saw the birth of Malawian Airlines, with the government of Malawi having 51 percent shareholding while Ethiopia Airlines holds 49 percent.