Home Travel Rwandair eats big as Zambia’s demand increases by 75%

Rwandair eats big as Zambia’s demand increases by 75%


There were 1.44 million two-way seats available on flights serving Zambia in 2009.

Lusaka International Airport, Zambia's biggest airport
Lusaka International Airport, Zambia’s biggest airport

By 2018 this had increased to 2.56 million seats, representing a 77% expansion in capacity over this period.

From 2009 to 2013 the market enjoyed four straight years of back-to-back growth, before seat numbers were stripped back by 4.9% in 2014.

There then followed two more years of growth in 2015 and 2016, before another marginal reduction in capacity in 2017.

The Zambian market has rebounded again in 2018, with capacity up by 4.2% based on the schedules filed to date.

The average year-on-year growth rate between 2009 and 2018 was 4.2%. The biggest single annual increase was the 19% growth spurt witnessed in 2010.

International seats continue to account for the majority of Zambia’s available capacity.

There were 1.31 million two-way seats on foreign flights in 2009 and this has increased by 53% to 2.34 million in 2018.

In comparison, there were 132,000 seats on domestic services in 2009 and this has grown by 63% to 215,000 in 2018.

The proportion of all Zambian capacity operated on international connections has risen from 85% to 92% over the same period.

According to OAG data, 12 airlines will offer scheduled flights in the Zambian market during S18.

Most of these are foreign-registered carriers, with the only native operator being Proflight Zambia.

The other 11 airlines include nine from Africa and one from the UAE. British Airways appears in the top 12, but the carrier does not operate to the UK from Zambia.

The biggest carrier in the Zambian market in S18 is South African Airways, which provides 22% of the country’s available seats this summer.

SA Airlink operates four airport pairs between Zambia and its home market including connections to Johannesburg from Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola.

The largest non-African operator to serve Zambia is Emirates. Seven of the 12 airlines serving Zambia in S18 have increased their capacity in the market since last year.

The biggest percentage increase came from Malawian Airlines, but this was because it barely operated any scheduled services to Zambia in S17.

Of the more established carriers, RwandAir saw the strongest increase in seats, doubling its capacity for S18. Five carriers have cut seats from the Zambian market this summer (highlighted in red).


The biggest reduction came from Ulendo Airlink which offered 54% fewer seats than in S17. Most of the 12 country markets saw an increase in capacity this summer compared to S17.

The strongest percentage growth came on services to Malawi (168% up) and Rwanda (99%).

Three destination countries witnessed a decline in seats (highlighted in red). The biggest cuts were experienced on links to Ethiopia (18% down) and Namibia (17%).

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