Flights cancelled in Malawi over forex crisis

Malawi skies were a virtual no-fly zone as there are a few flights coming in and out at Kamuzu International Airport in the capital, Lilongwe because the country has run out of  forex, Nyasa Times can reveal.

Major airline operators have since cancelled all in-coming and out-going flights operations in the impoverished Southern African country due to an acute shortage of the United States (US) Dollar.

Nyasa Times understands that as of Thursday morning all operations at the airport were grounded to a halt with only few workers reporting for duties as there nothing to do at the country’s biggest airport.

Our investigations reveal that the country’s major airline operators who have suspended their flights include the country’s flagship airliner, Air Malawi who are now using a chartered plane, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airways and Kenyan Airways.

Travel chao at Kamuzu International Airport

Cancellation

Nyasa Times enquiries from the airline officials established that the impromptu flight cancellations are due to forex deficiency that is hitting hard the former British colony as Malawian banks are yet to convert billions of Kwacha’s into foreign currency.

The country’s embattled airliner. Air Malawi, whose planes are grounded and had to charter an aircraft, was expected to resume its operations but has also been affected as the company that they hired a n aeroplane from are demanding upfront part payment in foreign currency .  Air Malawi is unable to solicit forex to pay.

Officials from Air Malawi disclosed to Nyasa Times that for the past month travellers are being checked in manually if they are boarding planes as CITA a company the provides sophisticated checking system have suspended its services as Air Malawi is owing the company that provide checking in services.

“We are in a dire straits, everything seems to be against us we don’t know what to do. Everybody wants money in foreign currency and the country doesn’t have it. Things are really bad that we might end up folding up completely as we cant keep on operating on debts which we are uncertain we will be able to repay back,” lamented a senior Air Malawi official speaking on condition of anonymity.

Payments

Meanwhile Nyasa Times has established that South African Airways will soon announce that it will no longer accept payments in Malawian currency joining the two other major airline transporters, Ethiopian Airways and Kenyan Airways.

Reports from South African Airways indicate that South African Airways intends to announce that it will only be accepting payments in either South African Rands or US Dollars for its services.

One Malawian South African Airways frequent flier told Nyasa Times in an interview that she was forewarned by the airliner that next time she must be ready to pay for her flight in foreign currency as the South African Airways cannot continue to trade in Kwacha.

“I do understand their position, but this leaves me and others who travel frequently for business outside the country in a fix.” said the disgruntled traveler who pleaded not to be identified.

She added: “Where are we going to get the Rands or Dollars for God’s sake? I don’t know where this country is heading to. At the rate things are going, Malawi will be worse than Zimbabwe.”

Nigeria

Nyasa Times investigations also indicates that during President Bingu wa Mutharika’s hush-hush visit to Nigeria his entourage which comprised of Malawi’s Central Bank Chief, Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor Perks Ligoya, Necton Mhura and Isaac Munlo bought their tickets from Ethiopian Airways using president Muthalika’s foreign currency visa card as the airline refused to accept them to procure the tickets with Kwacha.

President Mutharika sneaked in and out of the country to Nigeria for talks with that country’s leader, Goodluck Jonathan but Mutharika’s officials including Information Minister and Government spokesperson loudmouthed Patricia Kaliati vehemently refused that that the president never travelled to Nigeria only for the president to confirm his Nigerian trip later. Nyasa Times was the first to break the story.

The government officials did not use the presidential jet and Nyasa Times has in its possession receipts and details of payments of the three men who accompanied to the Malawi leader to Nigeria who paid the airline using Mutharika’s Foreign Visa Card.

The country’s intelligence Chief Binton Kuntsaira, head of National Intelligence Services (NIS) recent visit to Zimbabwe was also a nightmare as the newly appointed Agriculturist turned security agent mogul had teething troubles to get foreign currency especially the South African Rands from the country’s banks.

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