South African Airways, Kenya Airways, and Ethiopian Airlines have announced changes to their respective Blantyre, Malawi operations given the recent closure of Chileka International Airport's main runway, 10/28, to all traffic.

For the duration of refurbishment works that run from April 24 to July 23, commercial carriers will have to use Blantyre's secondary runway, 15/33, which measures only 1,372 x 30 meters and is therefore unsuitable for large jet operations.

In a statement, SAA said it would maintain its 3x weekly service from Johannesburg to Malawi's commercial hub albeit using a Dash 8-400 operated by sister carrier, South African Express. However, schedule data shows that given runway 15/33's constraints, SAA has had to move its weekly Johannesburg-Blantyre-Lusaka cargo service to Lilongwe instead.

For its part, Kenya Airways has temporarily suspended its 3x weekly Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta-Blantyre return flights. The route, which was plied with E190 capacity, will tentatively resume on May 17 using Q400 capacity operated by Kenya Airways' Jambojet subsidiary.

Ethiopian Airlines has chosen to suspend its daily Addis Ababa-Ndola-Blantyre service through late July. Service is operated with a B737-700.

As previously reported, Malawi Airlines is leasing in an additional Q400 from Ethiopian Airlines to ensure its Blantyre-Johannesburg route continues to operate and to increase its Lilongwe-Blantyre frequency.