FORMER commerce minister Dipak Patel says government is very much aware that starting an airline is a disaster in the making.
Last week, Transport and Communications Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya said it was difficult to determine when Zambia Airways would be launched because it was not a government company.
Commenting on this in an interview, Patel said he was not surprised by government’s consistent inconsistencies on all matters to do with the economy.
“Firstly, I am not surprised at this government’s consistent inconsistencies on all matters economically. Anyone with any basic common sense will know that starting an airline in this global economic environment needs serious amounts of money which this debt ridden government or IDC or its partner Ethiopian Airlines does not have. Worldwide, even before the current economic crisis most airlines were making huge losses. The idea of starting an airline with GRZ or a parastatal like IDC is a disaster in the making. It makes no economic sense. But, then this government knows it all so what more can I say?” asked Patel.
Kafwaya said the Zambia Airways 2014 Limited was not a government undertaking which made it hard for the government to determine when the operation of the company would be launched.
“The Zambia Airways 2014 Limited is not a GRZ undertaking, if it was a department in the Ministry of Transport I would give you the schedule, that this is our plan. Zambia Airways 2014 Limited is a company that has been formed by one company in Zambia, the other one is Ethiopia, so this is a joint venture between Ethiopian Airlines and IDC. IDC we all know is a parastatal kind of company owned by Zambians. This is why most people mistake Zambia Airways like a GRZ company, it is not. It is two companies coming together and putting resources together to launch an undertaking,” said Kafwaya.
“So, it is very difficult for government to determine when the company is going to launch because we don’t have direct control. What we have to do as government, we have already done. Everything that we needed to do as a government, we have already done. From our end, we have done everything. So for us I think we have a chief executive officer for Zambia Airways, he should be able to establish when, but we cannot not. But, we will be happy for Zambia Airways to fly again, this is why we have done all the things that we have done. So, it is not up to us in other words.”