Zambia Airways (ZN, Lusaka) is reportedly planning to acquire widebody jets from Airbus (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) in line with its proposed launch of longhaul flights.

Minister of Transport and Communications, Brian Mushimba, told The Lusaka Times earlier this week that Zambia Airways would deploy "turboprops" for domestic Zambian and regional African flights with B737s being used to serve further off destinations such as Dubai Int'l. The Airbus, he said, will also be used to run flights to New York JFK, a route predecessor Zambia Airways (1964) (Lusaka) used to serve via Monrovia Roberts, Liberia using a DC-10-30 back in the 1980/90s.

During the same interview, Mushimba also dispelled reports that first surfaced in July last year claiming the Zambian government would acquire at least one SSJ 100/95 from Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (Zhukovsky).

“I have repeatedly refuted the Russian plane story. Not sure why it has persisted. Zambia Airways is not talking to Russia about any planes. Please take it from me. Those are conspiracy theories,” he said.

Zambia Airways is a 55/45 joint-venture between the Zambian Government and Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) which is expected to launch operations in October this year. Although the latter's chief executive, Tewolde Gebremariam, has previously said that the Zambian carrier would operate Dash 8-400s and B737-800s, he has never alluded to its use of widebody aircraft.

Should the acquisition of widebody aircraft indeed prove accurate, it would fall in line with regional governments' aspirations of tapping into the aviation market where, at present, foreign operators such as Ethiopian, Kenya Airways, South African Airways, and Emirates, have near total control of local, outbound international flights.

Aside from Zambia, other countries in the region where state-owned entities are in the process of acquiring/have committed to acquiring widebodies include Tanzania (where Air Tanzania has ordered two B787-8s), Zimbabwe (where Zimbabwe Airways has acquired two B777-200(ER)s), Uganda (where Uganda Airlines is set to acquire two A330-800s in late 2020/2021), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (where Congo Airways is in the process of acquiring an A330).