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Chileka Airport to close for Rehabilitation

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Chileka International Airport will be closed from April 24 to July 24 due to development of the main runway which will affect commercial flights into commercial capital Blantyre.

Ministry of Transport and Public Works spokesperson James Chakwera said that the runway will be closed for two months to cover the way for restoration works.

“I can confirm that the main runway at Chileka International Airport will be closed from 24th April because we are embarking on a project to rehabilitate the runway. Chileka has two runways and the main one is the one that needs rehabilitation,” Chakwera said.

He said the closure will affect big aircrafts and temporarily they will be diverted to Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in capital Lilongwe.

“The ones to be affected are aircrafts operated by Malawian Airlines, Kenyan Airlines and South African Airways. All those will be affected because they cannot use the auxiliary runway, so, by the time we are closed, their flights will be directed to Lilongwe at Kamuzu International Airport,” he said.

He added: “Business will be affected. Especially if someone has to travel from Blantyre to Lilongwe, it will definitely affect business. For the airlines, some of them were operating in Lilongwe and maybe they will have to operate twice but, all in all, business will be affected for sure.

In January, South African Airways suspended flights to Chileka Airport due to serious safety risks at the airport.

The closure followed non-compliance findings made by South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) after its annual inspection at the Malawian airport.

The issues included the airport’s perimeter fence which was vandalised and fell short of set international standards. Meanwhile, SCAA also established that Chileka has no dependable fire engine and ambulance due to a lack of maintenance.

PALIBE NDEMANGA

ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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