Zambian Minister for Transport and Communications, Brian Mushimba, has announced government expects its renewed national carrier project to be ready to commence operations in time for the former British colony's 54th Independence Day celebrations due on October 24, 2018.

According to The Lusaka Times, Mushimba told a press conference that President Edgar Lungu's Cabinet had formally approved the Zambia Airways (Lusaka) project during a meeting on Monday, December 18. The carrier will be a 55/45 joint-venture with Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) controlling government's stake. Of a total USD30 million initial investment, USD16.5 million be allocated to cover startup and operational costs.

Earlier this year, Ethiopian Airlines' CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said Zambia Airways would likely operate a combination of Dash 8-400 and B737NextGen equipment.

Zambia is the second country in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) trade bloc to have partnered Ethiopian Airlines, the first being Malawi through its already active Malawi Airlines (3W, Lilongwe) initiative. There, government holds a 51% stake with Ethiopian controlling a 49% stake.

The head of Malawi's Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC), Jimmy Lipunga, told The Nation newspaper in September that despite initial promise on its launch four years ago, Malawian Airlines had yet to reach breakeven.

β€œThe business model that was floated during the tender indicated that the airline would be making profits by the second year, but the reality on the ground has been different as the airline has struggled to gain the market share that is needed to make profits,” he said.

Under the PPPC's original plan, government would have offered up a 20% stake in the carrier to Malawian citizens once it turned profitable. That way, effective ownership of the airline would have remained in Malawian hands despite government's retreat.

Malawian Airlines currently operates one B737-700 and one Q400 on scheduled flights to seven destinations in Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya.