The Post are reporting a breaking story on Zambian Airways :
Aaron Leaf at the Lusaka Consensus blog has more on this unwelcome development, as one of the many affected (and angry) passengers.
Zambian Airways suspends operations (The Post- 10/01/09) : Zambian Airways has suspended operations with immediate effect. The company announced that the airline had suspended operations to facilitate restructuring of the company due to operational problems. According to the airline, the suspension threatens the jobs of 260 members of staff if the company does not successfully restructure and resume operations soon.
Update : Reuters are quoting Zambian Airways that the problem may be due to the "high cost of fuel" :
Update (11 Jan 2009) : The Watchdog reports that NACL plans to grab Zambian Airways planes :
The airline said in a notice to passengers at Lusaka airport that it had experienced difficulties after jet fuel rose 100 percent in the last 18 months, increasing its operational costs by 50 percent.
"This created a lot of problems for Zambian Airways as a growing business. In the interest of our stakeholders and our employees, we have decided with immediate effect to suspend all our operations until further notice," it said.
Update (12 January 2009) : We continue our rolling update on Zambian Airways, with the APA report on today's developments.
NACL to grab Zambian airways planes (The Watchdog) : On Thursday January 8, the Zambia National Airports Corporation Limited (NACL) handed to Muntembo Nchinto, CEO of Zambian Airways court summons to settle a bill of US$200 million; on saturday, January 10, Zambian Airways suspended all operations leaving scores of passengers for local and international routes stranded.
In a memo at the Lusaka International airport, Mr. Nchito cited high fuel costs over the last year-and-a-half and the need to restructure its operations. He said the rise in the cost of jet fuel by 100 percent in the last 18 months, increased its operational costs by 50 percent.
“This created a lot of problems for Zambian Airways as a growing business. In the interest of our stakeholders and our employees, we have decided with immediate effect to suspend all our operations until further notice,” He said.
But the Watchdog has learned that the real reason for suspending operations is the court summons. The NACL, it has been learned that the Q3 has no capacity to settle the debt as it has been failing to do so for a long time now and the debt keeps on swelling.
It is rumoured that the airline started experiencing financial difficulties after President Mwanawasa died. It is said that, and was reported in the media last year that President Mwanawasa’s regime had ordered all people traveling on government business should use Zambian Airways. But the new government has since withdrawn this ’service’.
The NACL, it has been learned, wants a court order authorizing it to use bailiffs to seize and sell the planes to recover its money.
Minister: Zambian gov’t ready to save local airline - APA - Lusaka (Zambia) The Zambian government on Monday said that it was ready to come to the rescue of the beleaguered Zambian Airways which suspended its operations over the weekend.
However, the government has been criticised by various stakeholders, especially those in the tourism sector, for not bailing out the airline.
Transport and Communication minister Dora Siliya said that the government had not been able to assist the airline because its board of directors had not approached government with details of its financial difficulties.
She said the government was ready to meet with the company’s board of directors to chart a way forward for the airline.
Few will, however, accept the government’s position as sincere because the airline’s chairman and chief executive officer did meet with the minister and President Rupiah Banda with an urgent plea for help late last year.
The airline is a privately owned airline that was set up soon after the state-owned Zambia Airways collapsed in 1994. Since then the country has not had a national airline, but the void was taken up with the privately owned Zambian Airways.
However, the airline announced over the weekend that it was suspending its operations because of increasing fuel costs and other difficulties, and said it would try and re-organise its operations.
The airline also owes the state owned National Airports Corporation (NAC) that manages the country’s airports over two million US dollars in unpaid landing and parking fees.
The move by the airline left dozens of passengers holding tickets to various destinations stranded at various airports both in Zambia and in neighbouring countries.