By Bruce Sosola.
The one-time performing flag carrier Air Malawi enjoyed the skylines in Africa and outside Africa, however, its promising excellence and airborne friendliness were short-lived.
At independence in 1964, Air Malawi became a stand-alone airline detached from the Central African Airways (CAA) and wholly owned by Malawi. Air Malawi’s performance peaked between 1974 and 1975 economically and politically with all its British fleet which included the famous VC 10.
In February 1972, Air Malawi leased Vickers VC 10 and opened its root from Blantyre to London. This was a huge milestone as later in 1974, Air Malawi finally procured the aircraft. However, in 1978 VC-10 aircraft was withdrawn from the fleet because of huge operational costs.
Displaying its flamboyance, Air Malawi had an appetite for leasing aircrafts and branding them Air Malawi. The lease period varied from one month to two-year term.
For instance, Dr Banda leased Boeing 747SP, ZS-SBP from South African Airways as his flagship in 1985 during his state visit to the UK. At one time the Air Malawi Boeing 747-400 which carried Kamuzu’s Mbumba abroad was leased from Namibia Airways but was painted Air Malawi flag carrier colours.
In April 2003, South African Airways (SAA) failed to secure a deal to buy a stake in Air Malawi and subsequently opted for a deal with Air Tanzania. Thereafter, several times Air Malawi failed to conclude deals with Comair, Zambezi Airlines. Due to chronic financial problems Air Malawi encountered, the airline finally shut down its operations in February 2013.
However, when the liquidated Air Malawi became Malawian Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines finally secured an acquisition of 49% shareholding in Malawian Airlines.