Malawian Airlines is seeking a K385 million bailout to pay its staff in the face of lost revenue due to the grounding of its two planes prompted by travel restrictions due to Covid-19.
In an interview on Tuesday, Malawi Airlines finance director Wube Atlaw could not make a commitment on the future of jobs in the company, saying discussions with government will determine their next step.
He said the airline, a joint venture between Malawi Government and Ethiopian Airlines, has asked government for the bailout to pay salaries and aircraft lease fees for the two airplanes they operate.
Said Atlaw: “It is true that we have been having meetings with the Ministry of Finance on the possible bailout, especially on two areas thus salaries and aircraft fees from April to August.
“We are still waiting for an answer from government on our proposal. Presently business is not usual because of travel restrictions.”
Malawian Airlines has 86 employees and incurs a monthly wage bill of K77 million, meaning they will need about K385 million bail out for the salaries and aircraft lease.
Ministry of Finance spokesperson Williams Banda said on Tuesday he was not in a position to give much information as the meeting between the two was still in progress.
He said: “Government is discussing with Ethiopian Airlines. They haven’t yet finalised discussions. However, due to Covid-19, government doesn’t have resources for the bailout, but after their meeting, we will know the way forward.”
Sources at the airline confided that they fear for their jobs following what they term inconclusive and mixed decisions between the company and government on the way forward on their salaries.
The staff accuse their management of allegedly externalising $2 million (about K1.5 billion) airplane lease fees.
The airline was formed in July 2013 following the liquidation of Air Malawi in February 2013 for failing to pay its debts. Malawi Government has 51 percent stake with Ethiopian Airlines holding 49 percent.