THE Government has signed a bilateral Air Service Agreement with the Netherlands government that will allow both countries' airlines to enter the respective markets without restrictions.
The agreement will facilitate the ROYAL Dutch Airlines (KLM) to fly directly into Zambia and it will also enhance socio-economic, cultural, political and other developments between Zambia, Europe and the Netherlands.
The bilateral air service agreement was signed by Communication, Transport, Works and Supply Minister Yamfwa Mukanga and the Netherlands Ambassador to Zambia Harry Molenaar in Lusaka yesterday.
Mr Mukanga said Zambia was going through a milestone in the development of the aviation industry with the recent launch of flights between Amsterdam and Lusaka by KLM.
Mr Mukanga said after he signed the bilateral agreement in Lusaka yesterday at KLM, Air France and Kenya Airways offices that it was an important occasion that would enhance cooperation between Zambia, Europe and the Netherlands.
"The Netherlands is a strong country within the European Union and has significantly contributed to other areas of our economy. The Zambian Government welcomes KLM and looks forward to continued cooperation between the two countries in the field of air service and other economic endeavors," he said.
Netherlands Ambassador Harry Molenaar said the agreement legalises the flying of KLM into Lusaka.
Mr Molenaar said this development signifies the cooperation between KLM, Air France and Kenya Airways and the Zambian Government.
Speaking earlier at the official opening of their Lusaka offices, Kenya Airways area manager in charge of Southern Africa Rosemary Adigo said the synergies and benefits of such a partnership extend beyond the two organisations to their valued customers in Zambia.
Ms Adigo said the office would be a one stop shop for all travel related services for Kenya Airways and Air France/KLM.
"Travel services to the world on offer include flights to America, Europe, Asia and Africa, saving our customers valuable time with seamless products," she said.
Meanwhile, KLM, one of the world's leading carriers, on Tuesday night landed in Zambia, for the first time in 16 years and promised that it would bring the world closer to Zambia.
KLM Managing Director Erik Varwijk said soon upon touching down at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka that their first flight to Zambia was a significant milestone as the beginning of the thrice-weekly shift would open the country to the rest of the world.
He said KLM, which is a shareholder in Kenya Airways, had decided to add Zambia to its direct flights destinations after noticing increased traffic between Zambia and Amsterdam via Kenya on Kenya Airways.
Mr Varwijk arrived on Airbus A330-200 flight, which landed at 22:00 hours, five minutes ahead of schedule, together with Tourism Minister Given Lubinda and Communications Minister Yamfwa Mukanga before the plane was given a showery welcome from the shower tower.
The A300-200 plane is a 343-seater jet with 30 of the seats in business class and will operate the KK International Airport to Amsterdam' Schipol on three days, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, leaving Lusaka at 23:55 and arriving in Holland at 09:55 hours.
It will leave Amsterdam at 12:30 hours and arrive in Lusaka at 22:05 the same day and will become KLM's 72nd inter-continental destination and would bring to 200 the number of weekly flights the Sky Team, which also incorporates Air France, has in Africa.
Mr Mukanga said the KLM flight would open up Zambia and give choice of travel adding, the new entrant on the Lusaka destination would help come up with competitive pricing as was seen when Emirates Airline came.
Mr Lubinda said this would now open a new window for tourism adding that the world class service offered by KLM and the beauty of Zambia, would help make the country a preferred destination.