Royal Air Charters (RAC) needs to extend its services to the commercial flights market as government believes the move will advantage the airline and help the country in implementing the “Northern agenda,” says Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga.

Speaking at the official launch of the Royal Air Charters’ newly acquired 50-seater Embraer ERJ 145 at Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) last weekend, Malupenga challenged the company to extend its operations to the commercial flights market to accelerate government’s “Northern Circuit agenda.”

According to Malupenga, the Ministry of Tourism and Arts wants RAC to progress from being a charter airline to operating general commercial flights because by so doing, the airline would help government achieve the dream of exploring the potential that had been lying idle for many years in the “Northern Circuit.”

“As government, we have noted very interesting and exciting innovations by Royal Air Charters, which we feel will bring about the necessary competition to benefit consumers. We, therefore, hope that you are going to open yourselves up because as it is now, you appear to be a closed-shop with First Quantum Minerals (FQM) being the main beneficiaries for obvious reasons,” Malupenga said at KKIA.

He said as the nation awaited the resumption of Zambia Airways, his Ministry’s expectation was that the national carrier and private sector operators like RAC would individually and collectively help the country to grow in all facets, including tourism.

And speaking earlier, RAC Business Development Consultant Dr Joseph Mulenga paid tribute to FQM for being behind the success and growth of RAC.

“Having proven itself as a company of high standards and safety, the company bid for the lucrative First Quantum Minerals aviation charter tender in 2013 and was selected to be the primary charter company serving the FQM staff travel requirements between Lusaka-Solwezi-Kalumbila; Lusaka-Solwezi-Lusaka; Lusaka-Kalumbila-Lusaka and Lusaka-Ndola-Solwezi-Kalumbila,” Dr Mulenga explained.

He said that with the addition of the new Embraer ERJ 145, RAC aircraft now had the capacity to reach most local destinations in less than 45 minutes, and in the SADC region within one to two hours depending on the destination and considering the starting point.

Meanwhile, RAC chief executive officer Joseph Whittall also said his company was excited about the soon to be re-launched Zambia Airways.

“We are an air charter provider. At the moment, we have a limited schedule with our main focus being on providing aircraft to support the primary commercial providers. For example, we are looking forward to providing support through an aircraft to Zambian Airways. We will provide the aircraft and they will provide the seats on the routes on a commercial basis and that’s our strategic position,” said Whittall.

“With the country’s population growing and people becoming more mobile, there is going to be increased business despite the short-term pain the industry may have to go through at the moment.”

RAC had continued to grow as a formidable provider of ad-hoc charters in the country and the SADC region, and the demand for expanded capacity increased.

The company found itself overwhelmed with international demand, but limited by range and passenger capacity on the existing Embraer 120 ER Brasilia.

– Courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.