Malawi is set to have a new company to work alongside a new body, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), to operate all public airports in the country on commercial basis.
Ministry of Transport and Public Infrastructure spokesperson James Chakwera disclosed in an interview on Thursday about the establishment of the new company in explaining government’s delay to form the CAA.
In an e-mailed response, he said the process of creating an autonomous CAA has taken long due to a number of tasks needed to be undertaken in readiness for the exercise.
Said Chakwera: “All the necessary administrative tasks have now been completed and the ministry is just awaiting the establishment of a board of directors for the CAA that would then begin to recruit personnel to fill up the positions on the establishment.”
In 2017, Parliament approved the new Civil Aviation Act that authorises the establishment of the CAA to operate independently in line with international standards.
Chakwera said alongside the creation of the CAA, which will be the regulator of the aviation sector in the country, government will also establish an airports company to manage and operate all public airports.
He said the two entities will be allowed to use the resources generated from the sector for further developments.
“This is now the practice elsewhere as governments cannot and should not really be involved in running airports owing to their requirement for heavy capital investment, the dynamism of the sector and the urgency with which interventions are usually required.
“Airports are potential business establishments when run properly,” said Chakwera.
He said in the 2017/18 financial year, the Department of Civil Aviation collected about K5 billion out of which Chileka Airport revenue contributed between 30 and 40 percent or about K150 million monthly.
However, the revenue goes into a central government account as the airports, like all other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), get funded from Treasury. The average monthly funding to airports is K5 million.
Chileka International Airport commandant Dixie Kwatani said funding challenges were affecting the rehabilitation of the runway at the airport.
He said: “We are spending millions of kwacha rectifying the potholes on the runway time and again. It was built in the 1960s and rehabilitation is long overdue. In airports, the runway is a big thing and standards are high.”
South African Airways two weeks ago announced the suspension of flights to Chileka, citing safety concerns.
International Civil Aviation Organisation (Icao) revised Plan of Action for Malawi observed that the restructuring of civil aviation was expected to be included in the European Investment Bank-funded project.
A 2007 Icao report advised on the proposal for restructuring the civil aviation sector to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the safety oversight capabilities.