Air ZambeziFrom :
Jeanette Phillips
04 Fri, Nov 2011

The industry has expressed confusion and frustration over the recent suspension of Zambezi Airlines, forcing the airline to cease operations and leaving industry stakeholders questioning its future.

Iata has advised agents to immediately stop all ticketing and refund transactions through GDSs and BSPlink and continue to remit funds to the BSP. Iata said it would be pursuing an agreement with the airline to formalise the ticket refund process and would communicate this to agents once more information was available.

The Zambian government suspended the carrier’s Air Operator Certificate (AOC) over the weekend of October 28, citing “serious safety concerns”, and said it would institute a tribunal to enquire into the airline’s operations.

Zambezi Airlines chairman, Maurice Jangulo, said it was a shock to learn of the government’s decision to suspend the AOC. Speaking to the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, he said the airline adhered to safety and aviation regulations relating to aircraft maintenance. He said all aircraft were maintained and certified by South African company, Jetworx.

The suspension follows the news that the Zambian government plans to establish a new national carrier. “Sounds as if the government is getting rid of the competition before opening another state-owned airline,” says an agent, who would like to remain anonymous.

Zambian media reported that the airline would be managed by a group of investors from South Africa and Zambia in a partnership arrangement. The airline will reportedly use Fokker 100 and Fokker 50 aircraft operating regional routes, including Angola, the DRC, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, tour operators have been left in the dark as to how to assist clients who have been affected, with the airline’s offices in both South Africa and Zambia unreachable.