When Malawian Airlines announced it would be launching its operation and taking its first inaugural flight at the beginning of 2014, there was just cause for celebration.
Formerly Air Malawi, the carrier was rebranded after the government identified a strategic partner, Ethiopian Airlines, to get the airline back on its feet.
Through a public-private partnership agreement, Ethiopian Airlines owns 49 per cent of Malawi Airline Ltd, the Malawi Government 20 per cent and Malawian citizens the remaining 31 per cent with about $20 million of start-up capital invested by Ethiopian Airlines.
The much-needed capital investment in Malawian Airlines has resulted in the acquisition of two new-generation aircraft: a 67-seat Bombardier Q400 (with business class) and a Boeing 737-800.
Malawian Airlines took to the skies on 31 January and has since established regular routes to southern Africa, including Johannesburg and Harare, with plans to expand into East Africa in the near future.
Passengers flying Malawian Airlines enjoy signature Malawian hospitality service from the cabin crew; and the domestic service between Lilongwe and Blantyre makes business travel within Malawi that much more convenient.
In addition, there are now daily flights to Johannesburg from Lilongwe with a stopover in Blantyre – the first time daily flights have been available from Lilongwe or Blantyre to Johannesburg.
This year and next, Malawian Airlines will open up routes to Mozambique, flying to Beira and Tete, as well as to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Passengers can take advantage of Ethiopian Airlines’ Star Alliance membership programme, which offers a range of benefits including very competitive air fares worldwide.
Things are definitely looking up for Malawian Airlines as it continues to offer value-for-money air travel into the Warm Heart of Africa and beyond. The airline is expected to be an invaluable asset for Malawi as it gears up to support the business and tourism sector through domestic and international travel.
Residents of Malawi can also look forward to easier access to education and medical services as the airline opens up more routes in the region.