The launch of the Zambian carrier Zamex could prove the first step to wider implementation of the Yamoussoukro Declaration, backed by South African expertise.

The carrier, which started domestic and regional operations on 3 April, is a joint venture between South African domestic airline SA Express, with 49 per cent, and Zambian concern Matani with 51 per cent. The carrier plugs the gap left by the collapse of Zambia Airways, and will operate alongside Aero Zambia, which started regional operations in March and also has intercontinental traffic rights.

Don Wallace, SAX chief operating officer in Johannesburg, hopes the Zamex concept will prove to be the forerunner to the establishment of a standard, integrated network in southern Africa in line with the Yamoussoukro Declaration.

'We see our role purely as a facilitator, using our expertise to establish an infrastructure that will see the emergence of a viable network of airlinks between all the major southern African destinations,' says Wallace. He hints that Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya could follow the Zambian example.

At the heart of the 'co-operative, multinational format' of the scheme lies SAX and SAA expertise. Like a franchise, they will supply the aircraft, crews and maintenance, until the host country's workforce is trained up to take over. 'Yamoussoukro is an idea whose time has come and because of a void of regional players, SAA and SAX have to take the lead,' says Wallace.

Using SAX's fleet of 10 Dash-8 turboprops, Zamex is flying domestically between Lusaka, Ndola and Livingstone as well as to Johannesburg and Windhoek.

Source: Airline Business