President Lazarus Chakwera is set to meet Malawi Airlines board chairperson George Partridge to address the crisis around the debt-ridden flag carrier, State House has announced.
Speaking yesterday during the Weekly State House Briefing beamed virtually from Mtunthama State Lodge in Lilongwe, State House director of communications Sean Kampondeni said the President is keen to see the Malawi Airlines situation duly resolved as it affects trade and movement of the people and goods between Malawi and other countries.
He said: “Following the President’s desire to address the emerging crisis regarding the Malawi Airlines, he will be meeting the chairman of Malawi Airlines [George Partridge] this coming Wednesday, the 14th of April, 2021.”
Kampondeni’s remarks came barely three days after our sister paper Weekend Nation reported that the board of directors of Malawi Airlines has recommended an “orderly winding up” of the company following resolutions which were passed on March 25 2021 rendering the airline “technically insolvent”.
He said Chakwera last week also met former pilots of the now-defunct Air Malawi to understand how best government can address challenges gripping Malawi Airlines.
Efforts to talk to Partridge yesterday proved futile as he did not pick our phone call.
But international development expert Peter Yakobe said in an interview yesterday it was important for the country to invest in its own flag carrier.
He said: “Having an airline will generate wider spin-off benefits. It generates employment and wealth,
contributes to international trade, it stimulates tourism and boosts revenue as an airline is a significant taxpayer.”
As at February 2021, Malawi Airlines was sitting on a cumulative loss position of K14.09 billion ($17.86 million) and had accumulated K13.83 billion ($17.54 million) in debt.
Between October 2020 and February 2021, the company recorded a loss of K285 million ($361 000), according to documents we have seen.
Malawi Airlines is a registered partnership company with shareholding between Malawi Government (51 percent) and Ethiopian Airlines (49 percent).
In December last year, Weekend Nation also revealed that Malawi Airlines had been posting zero profits in five years but ironically paid over K41 billion for aircraft sub-leases, management fees and other payments to its strategic partner, Ethiopian Airlines