An industry expert in the aviation sector, Tony Chimpukuso, has warned that unless Malawi exercises control over the sector, the future will remain uncertain.
In an interview with Business News last week, Chimpukuso said despite registering growth in passenger numbers travelling both into and outside the country, authorities have deliberately allowed its citizens to be reduced to side-shows in preference to nationals of other countries irrespective of their abilities.
“Malawi has embraced the Yamoussoukro Declaration where we have seen liberalisation of the skies to allow more airlines from other countries to operate into Malawi with limited restrictions. Although this has its negative consequences towards the economy of the country, the sector has achieved substantial growth.
“However, the sad part is that currently the sector is commercially controlled by foreign operators and the situation will remain as such until Malawians take charge and manage the affairs of the sector,” said Chimpukuso, who is a former tariff and industry manager at the defunct Air Malawi.
He added that Malawi has all the expertise and human resources in every aspect of the aviation sector—be it technical or administrative—to properly manage it to profitable growth and reduce the massive exportation of foreign currency under the disguise of management contracts by nationals of other countries.
In an earlier interview, however, Malawian Airlines spokesperson, Ovixlexla Bunya, said only four management and one quality assurance supervisory staff are Ethiopian.
She added that three of the 10 pilots are from Europe while two marketing staff members are from South Africa and Zambia, while the rest of the staff, including seven pilots and the 31-member cabin crew, are Malawians.
Malawian Airlines, a successor to Air Malawi, is operated by Ethiopian Airlines under a management contract in which it holds 49 percent while the Malawi Government owns 51.
Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) chief executive Officer Jimmy Lipunga had indicated that the airline is fulfilling the objectives of the Malawi Government in promoting access to aviation services.
Lipunga said the airliner has brought in modern equipment, competent personnel and is supported by a global aviation technical partner, a situation which has brought a new face to the country’s aviation sector.
Chimpukuso, however, said the sector may have achieved some breakthrough although at a huge economic cost to the country for continued growth.
He thus called for the introduction of a national entity that would equally benefit the numerous Malawi Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) so as to compliment and contribute economically by bringing in foreign exchange.
BASAs allow countries to externalise all the money they generate in Malawi through ticket sales to their countries without even paying taxes.
Countries which are currently benefiting from this arrangement in Malawi are Kenya and South Africa.