The kwacha’s steep depreciation has not spared the football fraternity—with the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) one of the worst affected—as it has to pay K37.5 million (about $52 189) for Flames air tickets to Guinea.
The same air ticket in January 2015 fetched about K15 million (about $21 571) for a squad of 25 when the exchange rate was hovering at K450/US$.
But following the depreciation of the kwacha against the dollar, which stands at K731 exchange rate, the same air ticket is at K1.4 million ( about $2 000) and for the 25-member Flames squad, the association will cough K37.5 million.
It gets even harder since with a budget of K150 million (about $208 759), the association has K65 million for Flames assignments against Guinea (home and away), Swaziland (home) and Cosafa Senior Cup in May.
FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda said since the kwacha is unstable, the only solution would be to enter into partnership with a local airline.
Nyirenda said: “My friend the country’s economic problems have not spared anyone. It’s going to be very tough to fulfil away games. We buy air tickets in US dollars. The more the kwacha falls, the more we have to cough.”
He said FAM had considered chattering a plane, but the setback is that Malawi does not have airlines that have enough planes.
“Chattering a plane to Guinea, for example is around K20 million. But the challenge is that we would have to do that with a foreign airline and that would mean more expenses since if we were to take the plane let’s say to Conakry, where the airline does not operate, we would be required to more expenses such as ground fees,” said Nyirenda.
“So, the only solution is to strike a partnership or sponsorship deal with a local airline as we would at least get subsidised air ticket fares. We have tried that before, but it was on a short-term. This time we want a long-term partnership.”
Malawian Airline is the only local airline. Its public relations officer Ovixlexla Bunya was not available for comment when we wanted to find out if they would be willing to partner FAM.
Malawi face Guinea in Group L Africa Cup of Nations back-to-back qualifier on March 23 and 27. n