Zambian charter specialist Royal Air Charters (3Q, Lusaka) has expanded its market reach with the launch of scheduled passenger flights between Lusaka and Johannesburg O.R. Tambo under the brand of Royal Zambian Airlines.

According to a company statement, the scheduled operation is a subsidiary of Royal Air Charters and was incorporated in May 2020. "We started operations on the weekend with one-way flights. We are officially launching midweek flights on Thursday, December 17, 2020," Emmanuel Kalombe, General Manager and Director of Operations, told ch-aviation by email.

The airline uses the parent company’s sole 50-seater EMB-145LR, 9J-TST (msn 145305), on the route, supported by one of the carrier’s two 30-seater EMB-120ERs.

The new entrant will encounter stiff competition on the route, which is already served daily by Proflight Zambia (P0, Lusaka) and Airlink (South Africa) (4Z, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) as well as three times a week by RwandAir. Zambia Airways (ZN, Lusaka), the joint venture start-up between Zambia’s state-owned Industrial Development Corporation and Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa), is to tentatively enter the Johannesburg route with twice-daily service as well.

Royal Zambian Airlines’ maintenance programme is backed by the Royal Air Charters' base maintenance organisation, which is, in turn, is backed by the Aviation Maintenance Organization (AMO) of NAC Charter (NTN, Lanseria) of Lanseria, South Africa.

Royal Air Charters has been operating private charters in Zambia since July 2007, having been set up as a foreign direct investment vehicle by its shareholders, TEST Engineering (PTY) Ltd of Apia, Samoa. It started with a single Cessna (single turboprop) (single turboprop) 208B Caravan, but has since expanded its fleet to include three Cessna 208 Caravans, two E120s, one Beech (twin turboprop) King Air 350B, and the Embraer regional jet.