Malawi's Swift Air closes shop as sheriffs impound property
Operations at private airline, Swift Air in Malawi have been halted after sheriffs impounded the company’s property in Lilongwe for unpaid debt believed to be in millions of kwacha.
Zodiak Radio has confirmed that the airline owes its landlord - Airport Development Limited (ADL), Air Malawi and independent travel agents millions of kwacha.
Swift Air owes ADL alone K700, 000 in unpaid rentals, according to ADL Business Development Manager Ali Chiwoko.
We decided to seek court intervention after the airline filed to settle housing rentals that have been outstanding, said Chiwoko.
Swift Air Chief Executive Officer Mrs. Louise Hahn-Perepeczko could not be reached for a comment amid reports she was in South Africa or UK.
Swift Air started a promising alternative to the beleaguered Air Malawi on the domestic and regional routes, and its not clear why the company has run aground. It had a fleet of one Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia and was semi-leasing a DC9.
An employee who held a senior position at the company but spoke on strict condition of anonymity told Zodiak that the CEO left two months ago amid pressure from the debtors.
“When all our planes were suspended two months ago due to financial challenges, the owner decided to continue selling tickets and in turn use Air Malawi to fly the customers,” said the employee adding;
“The debt with air Malawi rose to millions and she decided again to use independent travel agents to book our customers on air Malawi flights but she has failed to pay them too.”
The employee said since May 2012, all the 24 employees for the company have not reported for work and the Head office in Lilongwe has remained closed.
The employee expressed worry that the company may go without paying them their dues.
The private owned airline was servicing Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Karonga and Blantyre. It also operated on the Joburg route.