Air Malawi Limited says it is waiting for government to approve their submissions on a new lease agreement for a Boeing 737 from within Africa to ply on the Malawi-Johannesburg route.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have submitted several proposals to government and we are just waiting for approval,Ã¢â‚¬Â Air Malawi chief executive officer Patrick Chilambe said in an interview on Monday.
But he could not indicate how soon they want the agreement approved and from which company the national flag carrier will lease the aircraft.
Minister of Transport and Public Infrastructure Muhammad Sidik Mia could not comment on when government will approve the lease agreement on Monday, saying he was driving.
Chilambe, however, revealed they have been talking to, among others, companies such as Zambezi Airlines from Zambia and Star Aircargo Private Limited from South Africa.
On November 16 2011, Air Malawi stopped flying on the Johannesburg route after the expiry of a lease agreement on the Boeing 737 200 from Bravo Capital Limited of the United States of America (USA).
Air Malawi complained that the leased aircraft was prone to frequent breakdowns and had a low passenger appeal, which affected the companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s operational viability.
Chilambe could not state how much money the company will have to part with to lease the new aircraft, saying the ultimate figure will depend on a combination of factors.
In an earlier interview, the companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tariffs and industry affairs manager Tony Chimpukuso said the leased aircraft will either be a Boeing 737 300 or 500 series depending on whichever will be available first.
He complained that in the absence of the airline between Malawi and South Africa, the company is losing Ã¢â‚¬ËœsubstantiallyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ on revenue which accounts for over 60 percent of its income.
This means the revenue the company is accruing comes from their services and other routes such as Harare in Zimbabwe, Lusaka in Zambia and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania which have remained uninterrupted, and are being serviced by small ATR 42 aircraft owned by Air Malawi.
For the past two years, the national flag carriersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ two BoeingsÃ¢â‚¬â€737 500 and 737 300Ã¢â‚¬â€series have been grounded in SA after the company has failed to pay for the mandatory C-check.
Last week, an economic lobby group, the Economic Empowerment Action Group (EEAG), called on Air Malawi officials and government to do everything possible to ensure that its two planes held in South Africa are brought back to Malawi.
EEAG said life, particularly for small business operators, is unbearable in the absence of an Air Malawi flight to Johannesburg. He argued that the airline used to provide a cheap and direct route to SA with no hassles.