INCREASED competition between Mahogany Air and Proflight Zambia has resulted in a reduction of ticket fares, according to the Zambia Airports Corporation Limited.
And Zambia Airports Corporation Limited (ZACL) communications and brand manager Mweembe Sikaulu says persistent limited bed capacity in Livingstone and Mfuwe continue to affect air traffic to the tourist airports, particularly by international tourists.
She stated that availability of competition between the two local airlines (Proflight Zambia and Mahogany Air) had attracted new travellers on the domestic front.
Sikaulu, in a press statement highlighting 2018 third quarter results, indicated that “with 553,045 general passenger movements, ZACL recorded a positive growth.”
She stated that passenger numbers increased by 11.6 per cent when compared to the same period last year.
“International passenger movements grew by 9.1 per cent from 400,950 passengers in the third quarter of 2017 to 437,250 passengers in the third quarter of 2018. [Some] 115,795 domestic passengers passed through the airports in comparison to 94,735 in the third quarter of 2017, a resultant increase of 22 per cent,” Sikaulu stated on Thursday.
She listed some notable factors that led to such air traffic performance, for the period under review.
“Continued domestic uplifts to Livingstone, Lusaka and Ndola by both Mahogany Air and Proflight Zambia, giving a positive domestic variance of 21 per cent, 28 per cent, 26 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, at Kenneth Kaunda, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula and Mfuwe International Airports as compared to the same period last year,” Sikaulu stated.
The other pro-growth factor, according to Sikaulu, was the introduction of a bigger capacity aircraft between July and September this year by Proflight Zambia.
Proflight Zambia introduced a Boeing B737 – 500 with 114 seats servicing domestic routes, mostly between Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola.
“However, this aircraft has since been withdrawn,” Sikaulu disclosed.
She cited, further, the introduction of flights between Lusaka and Harare by Proflight Zambia and Malawian Airlines as another factor that inspired positive growth.
“Increased competition between Mahogany Air and Proflight Zambia has resulted in a reduction in ticket fares; this has attracted new travelers on the domestic front. The introduction of RwandAir flights on the Lusaka – Johannesburg route helped to stimulate traffic to Johannesburg. RwandAir further upgraded the fleet on the route to include the addition of an Airbus A330, with a seat capacity of 270 while maintaining other aircrafts such as the Boeing 737, Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) and a Bombardier Q400 on the route,” Sikaulu stated.
“This resulted in increased capacity and passenger numbers on the route by five per cent as compared with the same period last year.”
And in terms of adverse factors, to do with air traffic into Zambia, Sikaulu noted that continued limited bed capacity in Livingstone and Mfuwe continued to affect traffic to the tourist airports, particularly with international tourists.
“Limited competition has kept room rates relatively high,” she stated.
She stated also that the operation of a low-cost carrier, namely Fastjet Zimbabwe into Victoria Falls Town in Zimbabwe, stimulated South African traffic into Victoria Falls International Airport on the Zimbabwean side due to “a combination of cheap air fares and accommodation.”
“South Africa remains the biggest market for the Livingstone and Victoria Falls region. On a macro level, immigration policies continue to affect travel to Zambia as countries surrounding Zambia have increasingly relaxed border rules by allowing most tourists to obtain Visa upon arrival. Countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Rwanda are among the new movers of this motion,” stated Sikaulu, citing reduction in frequency from some operators like Air Namibia, Fastjet and Ethiopian Airlines Cargo as another adversity facing the country’s air traffic.