Reports came in over the weekend that South African Airways has halted flights to Lilongwe, Malawi’s main international airport, known in aviation circles as LLW (IATA) or FWKI (ICAO).
The reasons given were of an unsettling nature, citing safety concerns: “which are currently not compatible with prescribed operational requirements for SAA to continue its scheduled services to and from Lilongwe.”
A spokesperson for SAA said in statement seen by this correspondent: “We operate within a highly regulated industry and must always ensure compliance with the prescribed requirements set out by the regulating authorities.”
In Malawi itself have both the Department of Civil Aviation and other government organs more recently warned over safety standards at the country’s main airport – a second international airport exists in Blantyre – casting doubts over future unfettered operations by airlines to and from Lilongwe. Main user is national airline Malawian Airlines, in which Ethiopian Airlines holds a major stake and has seconded management though even Kenya Airways flies daily to Kamuzu.
The airport came under scrutiny after a February airside incident when an allegedly deranged man managed to enter the apron, remove one of the wing emergency exit doors and slept in a plane, undetected until the next morning when airline staff noticed the door missing.
No other airlines, apart from SAA, have announced plans to review or halt their flights to Lilongwe.