Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Air Malawi pockets K33m on Bingu’s Italy trip

Government is expected to cough about K33 million in payment for Boeing 737 300 airplane that President Bingu wa Mutharika chartered on his way to Rome, Italy and Kampala, Uganda to attend a high level special event on Aid for Trade and Food security and Commonwealth meeting respectively. Malawi News has established.

However, the airline is also expected to blow some millions of Kwacha in payment for the another plane, the company borrowed from a South Africa airline Inter-Air which take over the 737 300 routes.

The president left the country on Tuesday boarding the Malawi’s biggest aeroplane 737 300 Kwacha to Italy the trip which also take him to Uganda where he is expected to attend the Common Wealth meeting.

A source at Air Malawi said the airline has invoiced government to the tune of K33 million for the one week trip the plane undertook with the president.

“Air Malawi has provided everything for the trip including allowances for the pilots, ground fairs, fuel and we have invoiced government about K33 million.

“However, I would not tell how much Air Malawi is paying for the 109 capacity earoplane which it has borrowed from a South Africa to replace the 131 capacity Kwacha which is on hire,” he said.

Air Malawi public relations officer Gaffel Nkolokosa confirmed the government's chartering of the Boeing 737 300 but refused to disclose how much government paid for the earoplane or how much they were paying for the earoplane that they hired to take over kwacha's routes.

“The request was made three weeks ago and arrangements were made to replace the chartered plane.” he said.

Air Malawi Board Chairman Jimmy Koreia Mpatsa, while he could not disclose how much the airline pocketed from the transaction, said Presidential Charter is a source of pride for any airline as it demonstrates the confidence that a State President has in such an airline.

“In the present case, it is even more so considering that the aircraft will be flying the Malawi flag to destinations where we do not operate to. In this regard,this charter will go a long way in promoting our country to the world at large and I feel the State President should be commended for humbling himself to fly in an Air Malawi 737 300 all the way to Europe instead of opting for other more luxurious aircraft that are readily available on the market for charters as others have done in the past,” he said.

Mpatsa said whilst the 737-300 is on charter the company have to continue with normal scheduled flights hence the leasing of an aircraft from Inter Air.

“This is normal and all the airlines do the same.Airlines charter or lease aircraft to complement their fleet whenever need arises.As a matter of fact you may wish to know that most of the aircraft being used by various airlines are leased and not owned by them,” he said.

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