The Zambian government has announced it has acquired a B737-800 for Zambia Airways' first regional route - to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo, South Africa - to launch in the second quarter of 2023. No further details on the aircraft were disclosed.

This comes after the South African Department of Transport finally granted a foreign operator's permit to Zambia Airways. As reported, plans to debut regional services in July 2022 were scuppered through delays in securing its FOP, a situation eventually resolved when Zambia's President Hakainde Hichilema stepped in to negotiate on the airline's behalf with his regional counterpart. As a result of the delay, the airline was limited to domestic services and could not expand its fleet. The airline currently wet-leases two DHC-8-Q400s from Ethiopian Airlines, the ch-aviation fleets module reveals.

Zambia Airways is a joint venture between the Ethiopian flag carrier and the Zambian government through the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

Speaking in South Africa on March 7, 2023, Zambia's Minister of Transport and Logistics, Frank Tayali, welcomed the start of the route as a positive development for the country.

He said the government aimed to transform Zambia into an aviation hub and has started upgrading provincial and strategic airports to promote tourism and trade. Ongoing work at Kasama is scheduled for completion in 2023, while the new Kasaba Bay airport project, once completed, will unlock tourism potential in north-eastern Zambia's Lake Tanganyika shoreline.

He said other projects included the Choma provincial airport in southern Zambia and the upgrade of aerodromes at Solwezi, Mongu, Mansa and Chipata.