Saturday, May 16, 2009

Passenger traffic has greatly reduced at all Zambia’s 4 airports - NACL

Passenger traffic has greatly reduced at all Zambia’s 4 airports - NACL
Written by Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Saturday, May 16, 2009 1:51:17 AM

NATIONAL Airports Corporation Limited (NACL) managing director Robinson Misitala has observed that the company is passing through difficult times as the passenger traffic has greatly reduced on all the four airports, with estimates indicating a 12 per cent revenue downturn. And Misitala has said following a court order against Zambian Airways, NACL believes that it is going to recover some of the money it has lost.

Misitala said in Lusaka that the reduction in passenger traffic, which had mostly hit Mfuwe Airport, had been experienced for the first time after the corporation's firm growth registered in the last seven years.

"With regards to the losses that we have incurred one of the cases is right now in court and an order has since been issued and we are now in the process of now trying to recover the losses," Misitala said. "And also it is important to mention that we are now passing through difficult times... our passenger traffic has greatly reduced. This is on all the four airports but the airport that has been badly hit is Mfuwe Airport. As you are aware that is a tourist destination in that most of our travellers are from Europe and the America and this is where the global recession has hit."

However, Misitala said of late, NACL had started seeing some improvements in the numbers of the passengers that were coming through and also the number of aircrafts that are landing at the four airports.

"And with this, we are optimistic that we are going to see the steady growth that we have since registered in the last seven years," he said.

Misitala also said some sources of revenue losses last year were as a result of two international aircraft that stopped servicing the Zambia-South Africa routes while the domestically owned Zambian Airways also suspended operations.

"In terms of the reduction of the passengers, we are now almost 12 per cent of our revenue and with regards to the loss, we have got only one airline that has since defaulted and this ... matter is now in court and we believe we are going to recover some of the money we have lost," he said. "In the last financial year, we also lost, two airlines stopped coming, one from South Africa into Ndola and the other one also from South Africa into Livingstone. But we have since had some inquiries with two carriers that would start operating. As you are aware also on the local scene, Zambezi Airlines will be bringing their two [Boeing] 737-500 that will also start domestic and regional flights. With these big airlines coming, we are hopeful that we will at least start registering an increase in passengers and aircraft movement."

Misitala also announced that NACL would this year spend K37 billion to improve infrastructure at the country's four main airports.

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