Malawian Airlines chief executive officer Kassim Geresu says the company is yet to exploit more regional routes because most Malawians prefer using land transport.
Malawian Airlines, which started its operations last year, flies to Lusaka four times a week, Harare three times, Dar es Salaam three times and to Johannesburg daily among other routes.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Malawian Airlines office inauguration ceremony at Capital Hill in Lilongwe on Wednesday, Geresu said currently they are operating at a loss because they are concentrating on penetrating the market before they start making profits.
The office has been opened to help civil servants purchase tickets with ease whenever they want to travel with the airline.
Said Geresu: “Now is the market penetration time. Even without enough passengers, we are supposed to take off. One of the challenges we have faced in the past year is to convince Malawians to fly because they prefer land transport. But I am convinced that after one year we will be getting the numbers since our prices are competitive.”
Geresu said the coming of Malawian Airlines has forced competitors to reduce prices, especially on the Johannesburg route.
“Initially, passengers were paying $1 000 [K450 000] but now the price is almost half as the fares are hovering between $400 [about K180 000] to $500 [about K225 000]. With competitive fares passengers are the real winners. Our prayer is that government must help to reduce jet fuel prices because most of our revenue is going to purchasing this product,” said Geresu.
Director of Civil Aviation Alfred Mtilatila said by opening offices within Capital Hill, Malawian Airlines tickets will be easily accessible to civil servants.
“The coming of Malawian Airlines on the market has brought healthy competition among airlines operating in Malawi, resulting in competitive air fares on routes being operated by the national airline. All Malawians travelling on these routes must patronise their airline so that it competes favourably with its competitors,” said Mtilatila.
In February 2014, Cabinet directed that all public officers sponsored by government and travelling abroad within the region should travel by Malawian Airlines.
The opening of the offices at Capital Hill complements the government policy in line with the directive.
The Malawi Government holds 51 percent of shares with Ethiopian Airlines holding the remaining stake.
The airline commenced its operations in January 2014