Renovations on the Chileka International Airport runway have been completed and the airport is now open to big aircrafts, the airport management has confirmed.
The airport was temporarily closed to big aircrafts on April 2019 to allow for renovations after it developed cracks, raising safety concerns particularly by South African Airways (SAA) which announced it would halt flights to Blantyre until the situation was rectified.
While renovations were ongoing, only the smaller runway was open for smaller aircrafts, notably the Bombardier, operated by Malawian Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines.
But airport commandant Dixie Kwatani in an interview yesterday said the runway renovations have since been completed, adding the airport openned its bigger runway on January 1 2020.
He said: “There are many improvements. We are now able to accommodate larger aircrafts and the safety has improved. There is also an improvement in its lifespan as it has been rehabilitated to high standards.”
A flight alert on Malawian Airlines website also announced a new schedule that accommodates the Boeing aircrafts following the airport’s resumption of normal operations.
Reads the alert in part: “Malawian Airline is pleased to announce the resumption of Boeing operations into Blantyre effective 2nd January, 2020 following reopening of Chileka International Airport main runway which was closed for maintenance since April 24 2019.”
Following the closure of the main runway, big aircrafts were not landing at the airport, with only small and lighter planes ferrying passengers between Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe and Chileka International Airport.
Initially, the rehabilitation works were expected to be completed by July 24 2019 but the deadline was shifted to August end and later to November 30 2019.
Kwatani told The Nation last year the situation was due to delays in getting adequate materials and resources to facilitate the rehabilitation. In January 2019, government said it would spend over K4 billion to rehabilitate the airport’s runway.