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ET halts local ticket sales

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Ethiopian (ET) Airlines has announced suspension of ticketing services for all travel agents in Malawi effective today May 17, 2022 due to shortage of forex.

In a communication to all the agents the company claims it has in recent months been unable to externalize all of its funds hence the decision.

Secretary for the Travel Agents Association in Malawi Eliza Chimbaya confirmed the development, raising fear that other Airlines like the Kenyan Airways might follow suit if the forex situation does not improve.

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“Concerns have been raised by the Ethiopian Airlines in recent months that the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has been unable to remit money to their accounts due to dwindling forex reserves. Rumor has it that other airlines might do the same and that will cost us dearly as business entities, notwithstanding the travelers themselves,” she said.

This means that passengers traveling from Malawi will have to buy tickets in other countries.

Following the decision all the travel agents in Malawi have been disconnected from the ET system with an attempt to sell a ticket bringing errors such as: “Error 8527 – unauthorized/invalid plating carrier code… the ticketing authority has been cancelled for the following Airlines 071 (ET).”

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Commercial Manager for Malawi Airlines a subsidiary of ET Airlines Charles Ng’ambi has however said the decision does not affect ticketing for their company in the interim.

“Malawi Airlines will for the mean time continue to do flight sales but for only our flights network and not beyond,” he said.

Market analyst Cosmas Chigwe has decried the situation saying the decision is detrimental to an already ailing economy; calling on government to intervene, saying there is need to control imports while still upholding the various Trade Agreements.

But spokesperson for the Central Bank Ralph Tseka says the RBM is not involved in remittance of the funds to the ET airline or any other foreign company, adding they directly deal with commercial banks.

He however said the forex situation is expected to improve now that the tobacco sales are picking.

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