Minister overturns decision to close Mfuwe Airport, moves to ensure exercise doesn’t disrupt tourism


Government has overturned the decision by Zambia Airports Corporation Limited (ZACL) to temporarily close Mfuwe International Airport to allow for rehabilitation works.

Minister of Transport and Logistics, Frank Tayali, said the rehabilitation works would instead be done in a way that would not cause disruptions to the tourism industry.

Read more: Zambia’s aviation industry reportedly hit historic peak of above 2 million passengers in 2023

In a statement obtained by Zambia Monitor, Tayali said the decision had been arrived at following concerns from various stakeholders.

“While the rehabilitation works of the Airport are well meant, following the concerns raised by key stakeholders and as Minister of Transport and Logistics, I have decided that Mfuwe International Airport is not going to close as earlier communication by Zambia Airports Corporation Limited. Instead, I have directed that the rehabilitation works must be undertaken without causing disruptions to the operations of the tourism industry which would otherwise be detrimental to the tourism sector,” Tayali said.

The decision comes barely a day after Zambia Airports Corporation Limited (ZACL) announced the temporary closure of Mfuwe International Airport for 90 days, beginning June 13, to facilitate rehabilitation works.

ZACL Board Chairperson, Zevyanji Sinkala, stated that during the closure all domestic air traffic would be diverted to Chipata Airport.

“The rehabilitation is essential to maintain and enhance the airport’s infrastructure, ensuring it meets the highest standards of operational excellence,” Sinkala said.

He explained that the Mfuwe International Airport infrastructure, particularly the runway, taxiway and apron pavements, had deteriorated, necessitating essential maintenance and upgrades.

“The scope of work will include the rehabilitation of the runway, taxiway, and apron pavements, the upgrade of the Airfield Ground Lighting (AGL) system, reconstruction of the inner perimeter fence, and extension of the terminal building,” Sinkala detailed.

These works aim to comply with the Zambia Civil Aviation Requirements (ZCARs).

Additionally, Sinkala disclosed that Chipata Airport was currently undergoing rehabilitation to meet acceptable safety standards.

“This temporary relocation has been necessitated by the desire to minimise the impact of the disruption to passenger travel schedules caused by the temporary closure of Mfuwe International Airport,” Sinkala concluded.

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