As Malawian airlines succeeded the liquidated Air Malawi two years ago, differences arise on whether the new airline is fulfilling its objectives.
Jimmy Lipunga, Chief Executive officer of the Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC), a government agency that brokered the deal, argue that the airline has rendered affordable accessibility to aviation services, whilst Tony Chimpukuso, an erstwhile employee of Air Malawi proclaims that Malawi’s economy has not benefited from the deal.
Chimpukuso, former Air Malawi Limited tariff and industry manager, points out that in as much as Malawian airlines has brought about competition as well as affordable prices to aviation sector, the deal has been too good to be true.
“Malawi has lost a lot of foreign exchange to Ethiopia mainly because management fees are being transferred to Ethiopia and also because the airliner, in as much as it is carrying a Malawian flag, is not a Malawian company. Its tickets are sold as Ethiopian documents with their numbers starting with 071.” He explains.
Commenting on the performance of the Malawian Airlines since its entry on the market on the 31st of January 2015, Jimmy Lipunga says the airline has increased competition and helped lower down airfares.
“Overall the airline is fulfilling the objectives of the government of Malawi promoting affordable access to aviation services. Airfares are much more affordable now than was the case before. The airline has outperformed its traditional rivals in terms of time keeping and baggage safety.” Lipunga says in an e-mail response.
Further, he adds to say that the airline has made Malawi proud, observing that last year it was number two on the continent in terms of time management.
Adding on, he says that the airline has brought modern equipment, competent personnel and is supported by a global aviation technical partner, a situation which has brought a new face to the country’s aviation industry.
But Chimpukuso still argues to say that Malawi could have benefited greatly from the agreement if the foreign exchange that is realized through the Malawian Airlines was to be used for domestic purposes. He also points out that the Airline has come under scrutiny for employing mostly Ethiopians such as the crew, cabin crew and serving Ethiopian food.
On the contrary, Malawian Airlines spokesperson, Ovixlexla Bunya, said so far, only four management and one quality assurance supervisory staffs are Ethiopian, adding that three pilots are from Europe while two marketing staff are from South Africa and Zambia. She says that the rest of the staff including seven out of ten pilots and the 31-member cabin crew are Malawians.
Bunya expressed the companies commitment towards promoting Malawian products, citing the in-flight catering, which she said is currently being done by a Malawian company, which she did not disclose.
Currently, Malawian Airlines flies to Johannesburg, South Africa; Lusaka, Zambia; Harare, Zimbabwe and Dar-es-Salam in Tanzania.