Malawi Airlines (3W, Lilongwe) is upgauging on domestic routes between Lilongwe and Blantyre and regionally to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo in South Africa by replacing a B737-700 with a B737-800 also sourced from Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa).

Flightradar24 ADS-B data shows the flag carrier on December 1, 2022, took delivery of a B737-800 ET-APO (msn 40963) from owner Ethiopian Airlines, the minority shareholder in the joint venture airline with the Malawian government.

The aircraft was ferried from Addis Ababa to Lilongwe and immediately took over services on behalf of Malawi Airlines to Blantyre and Johannesburg on December 1.

The aircraft seats 154 passengers - 138 in economy and 16 in business class. This is a 36-seat capacity increase from the 118-seater (102 in economy and 16 in business class) of the airline's only narrowbody B737-700, ET-ARB (msn 30687) used on the routes to date. The B737-700 owned by Aircastle, was returned to Addis Ababa, on November 30, 2022, according to the flight tracking site.

The only other aircraft in Malawi Airlines' fleet is a DHC-8-Q400s, ET-AQB (msn 4419), also owned by Ethiopian Airlines. Another of the type, ET-ASA (msn 4476), owned by Aergo Capital, was used while ET-AQB was in maintenance, but has been returned to Ethiopian Airlines, according to well-placed sources and Flightradar24 ADS-B data.

Malawi Airlines faced financial challenges which worsened during Covid, resulting in both shareholders having to inject more equity. However, according to Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Mesfin Tasew Bekele, the carrier has been profitable in the past 12 months and is focusing on expanding its network. He said plans to equip Malawi Airlines with smaller turboprops for its domestic network had been abandoned due to the poor infrastructure of domestic airports.

Editorial Comment: Updated with ET-ASA no longer being with Malawian Airlines. - 05.12.2022 - 08:40 UTC