Malawi Airlines (3W, Lilongwe) is looking for a MWK385 million kwacha (USD527,000) bailout from the government to keep paying its staff as it struggles with finances amidst the coronavirus pandemic, which has grounded its aircraft.

In an interview with The Nation newspaper published on June 3, the carrier’s financial director Wube Atlaw said it has asked the government to pay salaries and aircraft lease fees on its two aircraft - a B737-700 and a Dash 8-400.

“It is true that we have been having meetings with the Ministry of Finance on the possible bailout, especially on two areas thus salaries and aircraft fees from April to August. We are still waiting for an answer from government on our proposal. Presently business is not usual because of travel restrictions,” he told the publication.

Malawi Airlines employs 86 people and spends MWK77 million (USD105,000) a month.

Ministry of Finance spokesman Williams Banda told The Nation that the Malawian government is also in discussions with Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa), as Malawi Airlines is a 51/49 joint venture between the government of Malawi and the Horn of Africa carrier.

Malawi Airlines began suspending flights due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 25. It subsequently grounded its fleet.