Ethiopian Airlines is dragging Zambia Airways back to the skies

With the help of Ethiopian airlines and an initial investment of $30 million, Zambian Airways will be back in the skies in January, 2019.

In a shareholding agreement signed between Ethiopian Airlines and Zambia’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the government’s investment arm, the two state-owned entities will work together to relaunch Zambia’s National Carrier which was shut down more than two decades ago.

In 1967, the Zambian government through an Act of parliament, created Zambia Airways to take over from Central African Airways (CAA). Later on, it split from CAA and became independent. Despite being a national carrier, the government took to the literal meaning of independence when it announced in 1992, that the airline would be responsible for its own debt services and had to meet operating expenses from its own revenues. The airline struggled to survive and eventually collapsed in January 2009, on the weight of operational cost. At the time, the airline announced it was suspending all operations due to high fuel costs.

The Ethiopian-Zambian revival plan will see 45 percent of the new airline owned by Ethiopian Airlines and 55 percent Zambian. The partnership will see the new Zambia Airways grow its fleet to 12 planes and carry over 1.9 million passengers by 2028.

“As Shareholders, we have a clear sense of the direction we need to take in order to ensure the fortunes and secure growth of the national airline. We will instill a performance-driven culture through strong corporate governance structures and make Zambia Airways commercially viable,” a joint statement by Ethiopia Airlines and IDC said.

Ethiopian Airlines noted that the investment is consistent with its Vision 2025 Multiple Hubs Strategy in Africa. “As an indigenous and truly Pan-African airline, we believe that African carriers will only get their fair share of the aviation industry and the African market through partnerships with other African carriers.”

Currently, Ethiopian Airlines owns 49 percent of Malawian Airlines and holds a 40 percent stake in Togo-based Asky Airline.