2 February 2013

Zambia: Emirates Airlines Confirms Sata's Foreign Travel

Emirates Airlines has acknowledged that President Michael Sata flew from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Dubai after the African Union (AU) summit on Monday, January 28 2013.

For the past six days, the Government of Zambia has refused to disclose the current whereabouts of President Michael Sata, which has prompted speculation among observers, including some sources who indicate that the president is once again receiving medical treatment in India.

The airline has however not specified the mission to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for Zambia's Head of State.

After attending the AU summit in Ethiopia, President Sata made a secret trip to Dubai and London. Mr Sata is expected to come back to Lusaka on Sunday aboard a British Airways plane. He was supposed to arrive in Lusaka on an Emirates plane on Friday afternoon, but the delegation cancelled the booking for unknown reasons. This is according to inside information at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka.

Emirates Airlines Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations for Africa Jean Luc said in Lusaka that President Sata had been a loyal client of the airline.

Jean Luc was speaking at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport when he introduced the maiden 777-300ER maiden flight to Lusaka on Friday afternoon.

Jean Luc was explaining to guests the strides Emirates airlines had made in Zambia and the support the airline had received from the government but he messed up and devoured top secrets about the President's travel itinerary after the AU summit which officially ended last week on Sunday.

"The president has actually been flying with us. For example, we flew him to Dubai from Addis Ababa this week and later to London. He has been a great flyer with us and we are grateful for the support," he said.

The Emirates official may not have been aware that Michael Sata's trips to Dubai and London were covert, since there has been no statement issued on the whereabouts of the President.

And according to other anonymous officials at Emirates Airlines in Lusaka, Mr Sata and his delegation were expected back to Lusaka on the maiden 777-300ER flight to Lusaka on Friday, but the delegation cancelled their flights at short notice. Only Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Broadcasting and Information Amos Malupenga arrived on this flight and was spotted at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.

An intelligence officer at the airport said the security system received alerts that the president had cancelled his booking on Emirates Airlines since he was going to fly to Lusaka direct from London on Sunday morning.

"We have been told the president is coming on Sunday very early in the morning from London. He was supposed to come on Emirates, but we were told the booking was cancelled for unkwnon reasons and it is only Amos Malupenga who has arrived," the intelligence officer said.

There has been speculation on the whereabouts of President Michael Sata after he attended the AU summit in Ethiopia. The president was expected back to Lusaka on Monday January 28, 2013, but journalists who went to cover his arrival at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport bounced because the presidential Challenger plane which touched down at the airport did not carry the President.

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