Air Malawi’s ATR 42 is now ready for service after the company’s engineers worked on it, but passengers will have to wait because the aircraft is yet to start flying.
The national flag carrier, currently under liquidation to facilitate speedy settlement of debts and liabilities in billions of kwacha as part of the restructuring process, announced last December that they have grounded the aircraft due to safety concerns.
Sources at Air Malawi say the main problem the aircraft had was fuel data computer, which gauges how much fuel the aircraft has, but has now been rectified. The airplane is parked at Chileka Airport in Blantyre.
Air Malawi liquidator, Lekani Katandula, a partner at audit and business advisory firm Deloitte, was reported to be in a management meeting when called to explain why the plane is not flying after being worked on.
The absence of ATR 42 is a convenience to domestic passengers and those who fly to Lusaka, Zambia on the aircraft.
“Domestic passengers are now travelling by road between Blantyre and Lilongwe instead of the ATR 42. This aircraft is the company’s workhorse,” said the official who is familiar with operations of Air Malawi.
This then means that the national flag carrier will still have one available aircraft, Boeing 737 200, which was leased from Air Cargo in South Africa last year, and only flies to Johannesburg.
With the absence of ATR 42, Air Malawi is losing 30 percent of the company’s revenue which comes from the 48-seater aircraft, according to an aviation expert.
The Department of Civil Aviation inspected the aircraft in July, but the decision to ground it was only made in December, an issue that surprised some Air Malawi employees then.
Government recently appointed a liquidator for Air Malawi Limited to facilitate the speedy settlement of debts and liabilities as part of the company’s restructuring process.
The liquidator, according to the Privatisation Commission (PC), will oversee ‘orderly’ transfer of assets from Air Malawi Limited to a new investment vehicle, Air Malawi (2012) Limited.
The assets of Air Malawi Limited were hived off and transferred into Air Malawi (2012) Limited.
The strategic equity partner (SEP) is expected to recapitalise the new investment vehicle based on a new and viable business operational model and the level of participation within the SEP and should bring the participation of Malawian nationals, both with the SEP and government shareholding to 51 percent.
In accordance with the Companies Act, the transfer of assets from Air Malawi Limited to a new investment vehicle can only be achieved through a ‘voluntary shareholder liquidation framework’ enshrined in the Companies Act.
The Malawi Government has already made an undertaking that it will honour all debts and liabilities which are in billions of kwacha.