ZAMBIA’S aviation industry needs help to ensure the revival of the national airline does not remain a pipe dream.
The Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ) has rightly said the local aviation industry needs some kind of wheel alignment to ensure that the revival of the much-talked about Zambia Airways can easily suckle into existing domestic market once established.
EAZ president Dr Lubinda Haabazoka believes proper development of the aviation sector is crucial because Zambia needs to have her own airline to promote tourism.
He says it is the association’s philosophy that Zambia Airways should fit into the existing domestic airlines market.
We think that should also be the viewpoint of all Zambians because once Zambian Airways begins to feed into existing domestic airlines, it should be much easier for the new airline to fly in tourists.
But Dr Haabazoka did not mince his words when he said there is also need to look at incentives that Government should provide to ensure the sector goes to another level.
He says while EAZ understands that there are a lot of challenges in the aviation industry, just like any other industry there is need for wheel alignment to change certain policies to empower and enhance profitability of the players in this sector.
Aviation experts also believe that despite all the major challenges ahead, the industry has very big potential for future growth in Africa which would have a knock-on effect on the general wellbeing of national economies, Zambia included.
Many African countries are today unable to attract huge foreign investments because there is no direct airline connection to reach investors.
As a result, business travel and costs of doing business become prohibitive forcing foreign investors not to travel to distant and not easily accessible places, even if there are great opportunities like those here in Zambia
While Africa has one of the biggest populaces in the world, its aviation industry is disappointingly still small, representing only 2% of the global market.
So the call by EAZ to realign our aviation industry is not only timely but also opportune because aviation when competently managed can boost our economic development. It can become a pillar for economic growth.
Once the airline is in place, government should completely steer away from Zambia Airways operations because that is the only way its viability and profitability can be guaranteed.
There are great lessons to be learnt from the collapse of Zambia Airways and those are the pitfalls to be avoided.
Many national airlines have problems because the owners fail to enforce strict management of the business. Allowing workers and other government officials to take advantage of the business should never be entertained.
Discipline is important in business and this is what one would hope to see once the airline is established. It would be unfortunate to re-establish the national airline only to see it crumble again.