Air Malawi Limited currently under liquidation is set to ground operations with its last flight to South Africa scheduled for Wednesday, the BNL Times has learnt.
Air Malawi already stopped local operations last month when its ATR 42 aircraft went for routine maintenance. Despite the plane being ready for service, the company has not resumed local operations.
One of the top managers at the highly-indebted airline told the BNL Times on Friday that they have been instructed to stop operating on the Johannesburg route and that the last flight will be on Wednesday.
"Since we stopped domestic flights, we have been operating on the Jo'burg route a number of times a week. Now we have also been instructed to stop operating on that route.
"This means that there will be no Air Malawi flights after Wednesday," said the source, opting for anonymity, arguing that only the liquidator, Lekani Katandula, is mandated to speak on behalf of the company.
Efforts to talk to Katandula yesterday proved futile as his phone was out of reach.
Privatisation Commission (PC) Executive Director Jimmy Lipunga told reporters in November last year that there will be no break in operations between Air Malawi and the new company Air Malawi 2012 Limited.
Asked on Friday if the development meant that Air Malawi 2012 is ready to take over come Thursday, Lipunga said no.
"We are still in the process of identifying the strategic partner. We should be able to announce the winning bidder in the next 10 days from today," said Lipunga.
He could, however, not indicate how soon the new company could roll out operations.
As at the end of December 2012 the PC had remained with Ethiopian Airlines, Globe Business Network of Botswana, Fly Africa of South Africa, Air Express Limited of Malawi and Alpha and Omega/Abrina of South Africa on the list of possible partners.
In December last year, Air Malawi started sending about 243 of its employees on leave pending retrenchment and retirement following government's restructuring of the company.
"Firstly, as you know we are restructuring the airliner, we are looking at what obligations the airliner has and some of them have to do with accumulated fees and all that.
"Given that we are restructuring, a good percentage of the staff will be allowed to retire from the airline and we thought they could proceed to go on leave in order that they can fulfil their leave entitlements," said Air Malawi CEO Patrick Chilambe.
President Joyce Banda last year asked Transport and Public Works Minister Sidik Mia to speed up the process of identifying a strategic partner for Air Malawi as one way of speeding up economic recovery of the country.
"I want that by this time next year, the minister of transport should show us a competitive partner that has airplanes and money so that in so doing we can have air Malawi up and running," said Banda late last year at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe soon after swearing in new cabinet ministers.