Malawi airports poorly funded—World Bank
By Cathy Maulidi
A report by the World Bank says Malawi’s aviation sector has a very thin traffic base, particularly in the domestic segment, and that the airports are not well funded.
According to the report released last week, the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) depends on a yearly budget which is approved by the Treasury to fund its operations.
It, however, says that the department encounters difficulties to cover day-to-day operating expenses.
“The department’s budget for planned projects is estimated at K53.6 billion towards which the government has presently committed K750 million.
“Malawi’s air transport sector faces multiple constraints. The market for scheduled services within Malawi is small, with a low propensity of flying. Absence of critical infrastructure, including navigation aids (at Chileka) and limited maintenance funds are also big challenges,” says the report.
The World Bank also bemoans low safety standards and a low level of effective implementation of critical elements due to technical capacity constraints.
The report further indicates that neighboring countries have markets at least double the size of Malawi’s.
“Malawi is among the countries with lowest available air capacity (seats) in the Southern region. According to a report by Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG, 2022) Malawi has the lowest capacity of about 700,000.
“Again, Kamuzu International Airport and Chileka International Airport are two main international airports serving the capital city of Lilongwe and business centre of Blantyre, respectively. Both international airports receive code D aircraft but only Kamuzu airport is guided by instrument flight rules and all other aerodromes are operated by visual flight rules,” it reads.
As a remedial measure, the report has proposed that the government should focus on improving the overall position of the Malawian aviation sector.
Speaking to journalists after the release of the report, the World Bank Practice Manager responsible for Transport in Eastern Africa Almud Weitz said Malawi has to invest in transformation of airports including secondary airports.
“Malawi has to make such investments for the betterment of its economy,” she said.
While noting the existence of the challenges in the country’s transportation sector, Minister of Transport and Public Works Jacob Hara said his ministry is working tirelessly to address the problems.
“Talking about problems, the report has identified a number of challenges in the area of governance, particularly with respect to urban transport.
“Indeed, it is not enough to invest in infrastructure without addressing the governance gaps. I am encouraged by the fact that the recommendations in the area of governance fall in line with the interventions identified in the National Transport Master Plan,” Hara said.