The Republic of Zambia is a land-locked country in southern Africa. Zambia does not have a national carriersince the collapse of Zambia Airways in 2009. The country therefore relies on international airlines to help develop the local travel and tourism industry, signing open-skies aviation agreements with a number of countries in a bid to boost air traffic into Zambia. Zambia has one international airport - Lusaka International Airport. The Department of Civil Aviation of Zambia is the regulatory agency responsible for air transportation in the country.
Airports in Zambia
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Emirates Airline carried 15% additional passengers in the first half of 2013/2014 compared to a year ago. The growth in volume has been led by Europe and the Middle East while Australia has seen the highest percentage growth. Saudi Arabia, the UK and Thailand have received some of the largest capacity injections. India and the UK remain Emirates' two largest markets based on seat capacity, but Saudi Arabia has overtaken Germany as the third-largest while Australia overtook the US, and Thailand overtook South Africa.
In terms of the rate of growth, the standouts were Portugal, Vietnam and Zambia – all with 100%-plus growth, albeit from a low base. But Emirates saw 40-50% growth in seven other countries, including Australia, Saudi Arabia and France.
Overall, 15% passenger growth and 16% capacity growth for an airline the size of Emirates is a considerable achievement. Full year capacity growth, however, is likely to be closer to 12%, making 2013/2014 one of the slower years at Emirates in recent times. Asia will be the largest market for growth, followed by Europe and the Middle East.
Zambia's booming economy increasingly reliant on Kenya and Ethiopian Airways. A flag carrier needed?
As southern Africa enjoys a commodities boom, Zambia, like its neighbour Zimbabwe lacks an international airline of its own, leaving the country reliant on a small number of foreign airlines to provide connections to tourism markets and trading partners. British Airways' decision to pull out of Zambia in Oct-2013 after 80 years of service is a considerable blow to European connections. BA will redeploy the capacity to Ghana where greater returns are in view following Virgin Atlantic's withdrawal.
Privately owned Proflight Zambia operates a domestic network in Zambia and the seemingly prudently run airline has regional expansion plans, but is unlikely to be able to extend its business beyond Africa in the foreseeable future.
Zambia’s Government has been attempting to negotiate a funding deal to relaunch a flag carrier to replace Zambia Airways, liquidated in 1995 after 31 years' operation. However, the unhappy history of African governments meddling in the affairs of their national carriers means private investors are reluctant to become involved. Meanwhile, Africa's hub carriers like Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways are increasing service.
fastjet has reported a USD42 million net loss for the six months to 30-Jun-2013, but its directors remain upbeat about the fledgling African LCC’s prospects, with its Tanzanian domestic operations exceeding expectations and making a profit on an underlying route basis. But the directors acknowledge in the unaudited accounts that the carrier will need to raise further funds in the future “which represents a material uncertainty over going concern”.
fastjet’s ambition to establish Africa's first pan-African low-cost carrier is continuing to encounter strong headwinds. On its own admission, the Tanzanian market is too small to sustain the company and international expansion is critical to its longer term survival.
But the first international route from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg has, perhaps predictably, run foul of South Africa’s bureaucrats forcing the eleventh hour postponement of the route launch by about two weeks to the middle of Oct-2013. fastjet will compete against South African Airways (SAA) as the only other operator on the route and has promised to reduce fares by 60%. fastjet is taking online bookings for flights departing from 18-Oct-2013.
Alongside the launch last week of non-stop service to Beijing, South African Airways (SAA) has been working on improving its connections in Africa, and has recently launched service to three Central African destinations: Pointe Noire in the Republic of the Congo, Kigali in Rwanda and Bujumbura in Burundi. This follows expansion last year into Ndola, Zambia.
Turkish Airlines (THY) is being encouraged to launch services between Istanbul and Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. It is not the first time that the airline has been linked to new African services but on this occasion comes the admission there is a wider agenda involving trade and specifically mining and energy. Could Turkey be about to emulate China, which has been flooding the African continent with executive manpower - especially where there are sparse resources to be mined - using essential air transport as bait?
As African governments sought a path to successful locally-based airline operations, some attempted to gain the benefits of scale and coverage by forming joint airlines. With a good deal of support from European governments and flag carriers, two early examples of airlines jointly representing the interests of neighbouring countries shared resources, costs and – hopefully - the profits.