Douglas DC-8 42/43 9J-ABR c/n 45599 at London Heathrow (LHR) 1972.(with QZ 1968 - 1975)
Zambia Airways (1964-1995).
Zambia Airways was founded in 1964 as a subsidiary of Central African Airways. The original
fleet consisted of two Douglas DC-3 and three DHC-2 Beavers which were suitable for i.e. airstips
and small domestic airports. The carrier ordered a British Aircraft Corporation BAC 1-11 which
joined the fleet during 1966.
Douglas DC-3 VP-YKH the first to be transferred to Zambia Airways.
De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver 9J-RFZ msn 122.
British Aircraft Corporation BAC 1-11 5H-RCI ready to be delivered to Zambia Airways, here
in the first initional colour scheme 1966.
By 1967 when Zambia Airways had become independent of Central African Airways the fleet was
painted in a new coulour scheme and the Nationalsymbol "a flying eagel" on the fin. At this time
the carrier further one BAC 1-11-207 and a couple of HS.748s to operate the domestic network of
scheduled passenger and cargo services together with an international network linking capitals in Af-
rica and Europe.
After the dissolution of Central African Airways, Zambia Airways was formed with the help of the
Italian government. The airline started their operation from City Airport in the Lonacre area where
the Italians experts had rapidly constructed valuable infrastructure including housing, headquarters
a maintenance base until Lusaka International Airport, become fully operational late 1968.
Zambia Airways HS-748 9J-ABM and DC-3 9J-ROR parked at
Lusaka Int. airport late 1968.
Zambia Airways British Aircraft Corporation BAC 1-11 9J-RCH parked at Mombasa Int. airport
(MBA, Kenya 1969.
The airline began in late 1968 to operate international services. A Douglas DC-8- 43 was leased
from Alitalia to operate flights from Lusaka to London via Nairobi, Cyprus and Rome.
The nice inflight service!
Douglas DC-3 9J-RDR msn 981 preparing for take-off.
In 1969 the DC-3s and the Turbo Beavers were fully replaced by the new Hawker Siddelys HS-748s.
Hawker Siddely HS748 9J-ABM at Ngoma Airstrip, Zambia. (ZGN)(with QZ 1968 - 1975).
With inadequate pilots available, the Zambia Air Force had pilots and engineers seconded to the
Zambia Airways to fly the HS748s.
British Aircraft Corporation BAC 1-11 9J-RCH c/n 039.
The BAC 1-11 aircrafts were intoduced in the airlines fleet early 1968. The aircrafts were operated on
the international services to East Africa, Congo (Kinshasa) and Malawi, together with the important
domestic services linking Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola - Gateway to the Copperbelt. In November,
1969 the BAC 1-11 shedule was extended to include Mauritius, while the HS-
748s flew local routes.
In 1975 Zambia Airways decided to replace the leased DC-8-43 and instead acquired a Boeing 707
for the direct London service. By this time the carrier introduced the "green and orange style". The
two BAC-1-11s where sold.
Boeing 707-300 9J-AEB c/n 19263. (with QZ 1975-1985).
Alitalia bowed out and a new management team from Ireland come in. The Alitalia management
contract was replaced by Aer Lingus Irish Airlines. Zambia Airways quickly added two more Boeing
707s to the fleet and the carrier had three 707s including the freighter in its fleet.
Boeing 737-2M9/Adv 9J-AEG at Lusaka International Airport (LUN) 1982.
At the same year the BAC1-11s were replaced with a Boeing 737-200 that was often put into service
to Johannesburg and other medium-haul routes. Another three Boeing 737-200s came to be procured
to Zambia Airways for the next four years.
Hawker Siddely HS748 9J-ABK at Lusaka International Airport. The Hawker Siddelys were
replaced ATR 42 and the BAC 1-11s by Boeing 737-200s.
In 1979 the government signed a new deal with Ethiopian Airlines to help and improve the technical
and regional operations. The Zambian pilots and technicians were trained and flew under some very
primitive condition in Ethiopia and realised that flying in Zambia was a piece of cake compared to
the conditions in Ethiopia.
ATR-42-300 9J-AFC cn 0921 (with QZ 1988 - 1994)
"The widebody era" started in 1984 with the acquisition of a new DC-10-30. This was the first wide-
body used by Zambia Airways and was used to open a route to New York via Monrovia. The
first DC-10-30, N3016Z was and christened "Nkwazi" was reportedly a point of national pride for
many Zambian citizens.
McDonnel Douglas DC-10-30 N3016Z c/n 48266 (with QZ 1984 - 1995).
In 1989, a second DC-10-30 was leased from Sabena and later also a DC-10 from Lufthansa to ope-
rate longhaul flights from Lusaka to London, Frankfurt, Rome and Amsterdam, as well as a weekly
services non-stop to Bombay in cooperation with Air India.
McDonnel Douglas DC-10-30 leased from Sabena and Lufthansa.
(with QZ 1984 - 1994).
Zambia Airways ordered a MD-11 and leased a Douglas DC-8-71 while waiting for the delivery of
the MD-11 which never occurred due to the critical ecconomical situation with in the company.
McDonnell Douglas DC-8-71 9J-AFL cn 46099 1993 (with QZ 1989 - 11.10. 1995).
In 1990 Zambia Airways decided to lease a Boeing 757-23AF and was the first airline in the world
to operate the 757 freighter.
With 2,150 employees there is concern that the airline is overmanned
with only 300,000 passengers and operating a fleet of 2 ATR42-320s, 2 Boeing 737s, 1 Boeing 757
freighter, 1 DC-8-71 and 1 DC-10-30. The plane to crew ratio is over 300, three times the ideal.
In 1991 a crisis developed and Zambia Airways was affected by the Gulf War as the cost of fuel
soars and Zambia Airways began getting fuel outside Zambia where it is cheaper. Meanwhile, the
escalating civil war in Liberia means the New York flight instead uses Freetown as its base for the
hop across the Atlantic on the flight to New York.
During that financial crisis period, the International Air Traffic Association (IATA) suspended the
airline for failing to settle arrears in excess of US$5 million while its biggest aircraft, a DC-10,
was grounded for over a week when the Italian air company, Alitalia, refused to carry out routine
maintenance work because the airline failed to settle a multi-million dollar debt.
At the same time the American firm, Greyhound, had meanwhile taken legal action against the
line for not settling an US$8.9 million loan acquired for aircraft refurbishment.
McDonnell Douglas DC-8-71 and Boeing 737-200 at Lusaka International airport (LUN).
However, in an attempt to recover from this burden, the airline came up with survival plans which
saw spending cuts with some station managers recalled from abroad while a DC-8 was sold.
Zambia Airways not only flew locally but it flew scheduled international flights from Lusaka to
Bombay, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe, Frankfurt, Gaborone, Harare, Johannesburg, Lilongwe, London,
Lubumbashi Nairobi and Rome so it was very important to have a longhaul aircraft in service.
In 1992, the government reportedly indicated that the airline would be responsible for its own debt
services and had to operating expenses from its own revenues. Under this directive and in a worse-
ning economic climate, the airline very quickly scaled back their servicies both domestically and
The lessors of both the ATR32s and the Boeing 757 sent their staff to Lusaka to bring back their
aircrafts without that the Zambia Airways staff could stop them.
By 1st December 1994 Zambia Airways had only theB737 9J-AEG attemting to cover all Zambia
Airways routes. The plane would take off at 6:45 hrs from Lusaka and fly to Ndola and return to
Lusaka. After a short groundstop the plane was bound for Harare and Johannesburg to Lusaka and
the last round to Dar es Salaam and back to midnight.
On December 3, 1994 Zambia Airways was liquidated. Passengers and staff were trapped all over
the world. Various offices around the world were closed.
The carrier had $100 million in dept and the goverment encouraged not to attempt to save the airline
but instead to liquidate its assets. Its assets were sold off easaly by the liquidator. The brokers from
all over the world invaded the maintenance base to buy sparparts and equipments to an underprice,
worth a fortune for operators of BAC-1-11, DC-8, Boeing 707, Boeing 737, Boeing 757, HS-748 and
The last aircraft, Zambia Airways "flagship" the DC-10-30N3016Z "Nkwazi" was sold to Monarch
Airline during 1995.
Aftre almost 30 years of service in the aviation industry and the decision by the government to
liquidate Zambia Airways the government assigned the rights of Zambia Airways to Aero Zambia
in the end of January 1995.
The airline has operated ATR42, BAC 1-11, Boeing 707, B737, B757,
Beaver, Douglas DC-3, DC-8-62, DC-8-71 and Douglas DC-10-30.
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@Copyright 1998 Tony Edlind
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