Malawi: Chakwera Keen to Address Malawi Airlines Crisis, Sets Meeting With Patridge

Malawi's Lazarus Chakwera.
13 April 2021

President Lazarus Chakwera is keen to see Malawi Airlines financial situation that may lead to liquidation be duly resolved and has set a meeting with George Patridge, the chairperson of the country's flag carrier, to address the crisis, State House director of communication Sean Kampondeni has said.

Kampondeni said this Monday during the Weekly State House Briefing which was virtually held from Mtunthama State Lodge in Lilongwe as published reports indicated Malawi Airlines could be liquidated should its two shareholders, the Malawian government (51%) and Ethiopian (ET, Addis Ababa ) (49%), fail to inject much-needed fresh capital.

"Following the President's desire to address the emerging crisis regarding the Malawi Airlines, he will be meeting the chairman of Malawi Airlines this coming Wednesday, the 14th of April, 2021," said Kampondeni.

He dislocsed that President Chakwera has already met former pilots of the now-defunt Air Malawi to understand how best government can challenges gripping the country;s flag carrier.

The Nation newspaper cited company documents last week saying that the airline's board of directors had declared it technically insolvent during a meeting on March 25.

According to the report, by February, the carrier had cumulative losses of MWK14.09 billion kwacha (USD17.86 million) against total debts of MWK13.83 billion (USD17.54 million).

"The directors have assessed the company and found it technically insolvent and not a going concern if shareholders do not inject equity into the company. The directors are of the opinion that the company cannot continue to trade in its current state without a rescue package, while there is still a significant gap between costs and revenue," the resolutions said.

The board said that Malawi Airlines' losses had started even before the pandemic, given intense regional competition from other southern African carriers as well as high operating costs. While COVID has worsened the situation, shareholder failure to assist the airline would be the final blow.

"In the absence of any injection of capital and with all the requested cost reduction relief measures not being approved, it is resolved that under the circumstances, where the shareholders of Malawi Airlines have not committed to the recapitalisation of the business or approved the requested relief measures and that the going concern is uncertain, the board of directors recommends an orderly winding up of the company and further recommends the appointment of a liquidator to discharge obligations and minimise further liabilities," the resolutions said.

The board of directors will now pass the board recommendation to the two shareholders, who will then decide whether to proceed with the airline's orderly liquidation.

Founded in 2013 as the successor to Air Malawi (QM, Blantyre ), Malawi Airlines was to have been developed into Ethiopian's primary feeder carrier for the southern Africa region using Lilongwe as a regional hub. However, high operating costs, including import duties and aviation-specific duties, have thwarted these plans, resulting in the airline suffering little to no growth. Over the last six months, it has also had to cope with the impact of COVID-19, which has led to key markets like South Africa being closed to foreign passenger traffic.

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