11 January 2013

Zambia: 'Consult Widely Over National Airline'

THE Airways and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (AAWUZ) has called on the Government to exhaust the consultation process with the aviation industry and business experts before launching a national airline.

AAWUZ general secretary Whiteson Kalunga said in an interview in Ndola yesterday that the Government should consult various experts and stakeholders before launching the national flag carrier by July this year.

Mr Kalunga said the mere fact that some countries in the region had managed to maintain national airlines which they were running profitably was evidence that Zambia could do the same as long as right measures were put in place.

The Government recently said it was ready to introducea national airline by July this year and that some delegates coming to the forthcoming United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly which Zambia would co-host with Zimbabwe would use the new airline.

Mr Kalunga said the Government should also draw lessons from the defunct Zambia Airways which was liquidated in a hurry.

AAWUZ wants the Government to wholly own the new airline although there should be room to invite a few equity partners who should be minority shareholders.

"As people who work in the airlines industry we know that running an airline is a demanding but lucrative business and as long as it was being done in a transparent manner it can greatly contribute to not only creating sustainable employment but support various auxiliary businesses," he said.

Mr Kalunga said airline workers in the country were of the view that once the Government was a majority shareholder the interest of various industries supporting the airline business would be protected.

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