Introduction of Mahogany Air contributes 23% to Growth of Domestic Flights in Q3:2017
MAHOGANY AIR with its aggressive and ambitious goal to promote domestic air travel contributed 2,418 passengers or 23% to the total domestic passenger traffic growth in Q3: 2017. This was confirmed by Zambia Airports Corporation Limited - ZACL Communications and Brand Manager Ms. Mweembe Sikaulu. She attributed the growth in passengers to the reduced fares, which she said if continued are expected to further spur growth in domestic traffic as ZACL projects to see more un-flown passengers traveling by air.
This growth mostly attributed to Mahogany Air flights has also seen Ndola's Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport - SMKIA record the strongest Quarter on Quarter –(QoQ) growth. Ms. Sikaulu stated in response to a press query from Zambia Business Times that the 27% growth in domestic traffic at SMKIA was mainly attributed to the resumption of operations by Mahogany Air which has re-introduced the Lusaka-Ndola route as well as introduction of Kasama and Solwezi route by Proflight. She said that the continued increased activities in the mines on the Copperbelt and North Western are also a contributing factor. Zambia is in the process of upgrading its two international airports for a combined cost of $USD800million which should put the land linked nation in contention for regional hub status.
The Q3: 2017 report however showed reduced cargo freight (QoQ) attributed to relatively higher freight charges. Sikaulu told ZBT that freight charges such as the cost of carriage of freight are relatively higher in Zambia than in for instance South Africa or Kenya due to our relatively higher landed cost of JetA1 fuel due to the inland distance.
The other countries that are alternative landing airports in the region enjoy lower cost of JetA1 due to their proximity to ports and that they can pass on the savings on fuel to cargo airlines. A further impediment that is specific to Zambia are the low volumes of cargo carried in and out of Zambia, reducing the economies of scale and increasing the cost of freight.
Zambia has invested heavily in air travel and air freight facilities with a world class airport completed and commission such as Livingstone’s Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula at an investment cost of US$40million. Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport has reached an advanced stage of construction as a cost of about US$350 million while the Greenfield cost of about US$400 Copperbelt’s new Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport construction started in 2017.
The Ministry of Transport has announced that Zambian Airways will be operational by October 2018 in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines in a Joint Venture which the Zambian government has 55% stake and the Ethiopian government will take up 45% stake with the initial investment pegged at US $30 million. There is therefore need to ensure that the two major local airlines, Mahogany and Proflight are engaged to ensure their continued survival and growth as an alternative private sector.
The Ministry of Transport will also need to spearhead the formulation and implementation of requisite legislation and business policies that will address the landed cost of Jet fuel as well as ensure coordination in airport taxes, logistics and other auxiliary business support systems to leverage the cumulative of over USD 1 billion air transport infrastructure investment that has been made even across the upgrade of regional and provincial airports. Zambia is centrally located and has all the geographical and human capital needed to become a transport hub.
Mahogany’s Embraer at Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport