Zambia Airways (ZN, Lusaka) is expected to start regional flights before the end of March 2023, after securing a long-awaited foreign operator permit, according to Chief Executive Officer Abiy Asrat Jiru. Countries and destinations to be served were not disclosed.

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 counterparts, Jiru said in a statement shared with ZNBC News. Jiru was speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during a courtesy call on Zambia's Charge D'Affaires, Trevor Sichombo.

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

One of the first regional destinations to be launched is sure to be the lucrative route to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo in South Africa. Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Mesfin Tasew Bekele told ch-aviation last year that Zambia Airways had had a difficult start during the Covid-19 pandemic at the end of 2021 and had experienced difficulties getting traffic rights to Johannesburg. As a result, it was limited to domestic services and could not expand its fleet.

Mesfin said Ethiopian Airlines intended to "put maximum effort into developing this airline". "Zambia is a big economy. We think this airline has a great future to fly domestically and regionally," he said.

Zambia Airways currently operates two DHC-8-Q400s owned by Ethiopian Airlines, the ch-aviation fleets advanced module shows, on domestic routes from the capital Lusaka to Livingstone, Ndola International and Solwezi.