The anti-Jane Ansah protests targeting the country’s ports of entry planned for August 26 to 30 could see aviation players and government lose revenue in excess of K 1 billion.
Department of Civil Aviation deputy director (Regulation) James Chakwera said Tuesday this is so because the aviation industry is one of the most expensive sectors.
“It is very sensitive to disruptions such as cancellations and delays, the cost could even be higher than K1 billion,” he said.
Chakwera said the aviation sector is also inter-connected to many other sectors, making the ripple effect huge.
“The K1 billion estimation makes sense,” he asserted. “There is a lot of domino effects at play. For example, there is also high risk of revenue losses in the event of vandalism at our recently renovated airports.”
Chakwera further explained that apart from foregone tax revenue to government, other costs would come in terms of under-utilised labour for all service providers, idle or under-utilised assets, extra costs associated with disrupted long-haul travel such as lodging and connecting flights for passengers unable to proceed to Lilongwe.
From an analysis based on publicly available documents such as flight schedules and travel agents insider information, we have established that about 32 international flights will be disrupted.
The development would see airliners plying the Malawian aviation market lose in excess of K500 million in ticket sales alone, and about K100 million airport service revenue, during the period.
The K1 billion rough approximations comprise of consolidated revenue estimates for all commercial passenger airliners estimates of revenue acquired by the airports managers, Airport Development Limited (ADL) and the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) through airport fees and other commercial activities.plying the Malawi route and
The estimate also included potential revenue losses on cargo flights, food, and insurance, and in allied sectors such as land transport and hospitality. Impact on tourism has not been included in the rough figure.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Timothy Mtambo on Tuesday said the grouping is aware of the huge negative impact the airport and border shutdown will have on the country’s economy.
“This should propel President Peter Mutharika, as the appointing authority, to fire Jane Ansah as Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson,” said Mtambo.
President Mutharika has ignored calls for Ansah’s removal in the past three months.
However, Livingstonia University-based political commentator George Phiri says its high time government listened to HRDC’s demands for Ansah to step down, before the situation deteriorates further.
“The purpose of demonstrations is to paralyse certain operations to bring awareness to the decision-makers to respond with urgency. If there’s no disruption, how can they respond with urgency? Let the President act,” Phiri said in an interview via WhatsApp.
Meanwhile, government spokesperson Mark Botoman, who is also Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communication Technology said government is closely monitoring the situation.
“So far, we’re consulting with colleagues in civil aviation, law enforcement and defence to agree on the next course of action,” he said on Tuesday.
There has been growing uncertainty in the aviation industry since HRDC announced on Tuesday that the protesters will occupy the country’s airports and border posts if Ansah does not resign.
HRDC is accusing Ansah of mismanaging the May 21 presidential election results, in which President Mutharika was declared winner.
But key aviation authorities have cautioned against the shutdown plans, saying it could further plunge the country’s developing aviation sector into turmoil.
According to information sourced from the DCA, Kamuzu and Chileka international airports manage an average of 13 800 flights and about 405 000 passengers a year.
Everyday, the two airports handle, on average, about 800 international passengers and about 310 domestic travellers, according to statistics in the Malawi National Transport Master Plan.
Currently, Malawian Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airways, South African Airways, Zambia’s Pro-flight and Ulendo Air Link are key players in the Malawian aviation market. Emirates Cargo also ply the Lilongwe route.
All of the named airlines operate seven weekly flights between Lilongwe and their bases.
Malawian flag carrier, Malawian Airlines, which operates 12 daily flights to seven destinations, including Lilongwe, Chileka in Blantyre, Nairobi in Kenya, Lusaka in Zambia, Johannesburg in South Africa and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania uses its fleet comprising of a Boeing 737–800 airplane with a capacity of 154 passengers and a 67-seater Bombardier Q400. All stand to lose.
Currently, KIA handles aircraft in the category of 150-seat category, such as Boeing 737 and Airbus A 300, and Code D & E aircraft such as Boeing 767 and 747, with a capacity of between 180 and 375 passengers on board.
KIA is also feeder to long-haul operators from Johannesburg, Nairobi and Addis Ababa; and direct routes to Dar-es Salaam, Lusaka, Harare and Zanzibar.
Our investigations show that should the protests affect the airports, a total 32 flights are at risk of disruption.
Malawian Airlines Spokesperson Joseph Josiah, responding to a questionnaire on the matter on Tuesday, reserved comment until the protest organisers communicate of their intention to the company.
“We have information that the HRDC intends to write all concerned stakeholders, including Malawian Airlines; therefore, the position of management is that we can only comment after getting official communication,” he said.
While South African Airways Spokesperson Tlali Tlali yesterday said was yet to gather adequate details on the company’s plans in the wake of the impending shutdown protests in a week’s time.
- Malawian Airlines will be hardest hit
- 18 flights to be grounded
- 32 international flights to be taken off Malawi skies
- Govt to lose K100m in landing, airport service fees