Proflight Zambia celebrates Jetstream’s first touchdown
LUSAKA, Zambia –Proflight Zambia celebrates the anniversary today (June 19) of the first touchdown of its first Jetstream aircraft on Zambian soil ten years ago, marking a turning point that propell
LUSAKA, Zambia –Proflight Zambia celebrates the anniversary today (June 19) of the first touchdown of its first Jetstream aircraft on Zambian soil ten years ago, marking a turning point that propelled the airline into becoming a major industry player.
That first 18-seat aircraft – registration 9J-PCS – has since been joined by three other planes of the same make, along with three 29-seater Jetstream 41 aircraft and a 50-seater Bombardier CRJ-100 jet.
“It is a measure of how far Proflight Zambia has come in the last decade, when we graduated from small planes,” Mark Barrett, who was the First officer on the original delivery flight and is now the airline’s Chief Operating Officer. “The arrival of 9J-PCS was a turning point for the company and for aviation in Zambia.”
The six-day epic delivery flight in 2005 was captained by Captain Niel Wilde with engineer Josh Muhwati and covered 9,149 nautical miles and 38 hours of flying time to ferrying the Jetstream aircraft from Nashville, Tennessee in the United States in legs that took the crew across America up to the east coast of Canada, over the Atlantic Ocean to Iceland then to Scotland through Europe, before crossing the Mediterranean to Egypt, stopping at Entebbe in Uganda, before finally touching down in Lusaka.
And it was the start of a much longer journey for the company, which has since grown to become Zambia’s flagship scheduled airline, with ten aircraft, flying from its base in Lusaka to Livingstone, Mfuwe, Lower Zambezi, Ndola, Solwezi and Kasama, and regional routes to Lilongwe in Malawi, and Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It adds Kafue National Park to its routes from July 1, 2015 and Kitwe Southdowns from July 13.
This year the airline has had even more reason to celebrate having been named Africa’s fastest growing airline in the region by AOG aviation and highlighted as significantly helping to grow the country’s domestic tourism by CNN’s Marketplace Africa.
“Our success over the years can be attributed to the team’s hands-on management style and extensive knowledge of aviation as well as growth in the local tourism industry and business,” said Proflight Managing Director Tony Irwin.
He however admitted the fact that this has been no easy trip for the airline and as any pilot will tell you, “there is sometimes turbulence in the sky”. The same has been true for Proflight and many times of ‘turbulence’ had to be overcome to become Zambia’s leading domestic airline.
The airline’s vision started 24 years ago with one eight-seater Piper Chieftain Aeroplane ferrying tourists to their destination.
“It wasn’t easy, no doubt about it, it wasn’t easy. It was mainly tenacity and sticking to it is how we made it. There were three local airlines operating at the time which was too much competition for a small market such as ours,” emphasised Mr Irwin.
Proflight continues to be a partner in pushing the domestic tourism agenda and takes pride in the fact that its growth is and remains driven by the local demand.
“Our roots are in tourism and we will always have a strong connection with the tourism industry. Over the years local business and leisure has come to majorly contribute to the airlines growth as well,” said Mr Irwin.
The airline prides itself in providing a safe, reliable, efficient and friendly service, and offering good value to business and leisure travellers locally and internationally.