Eswatini, Africa's last absolute monarchy, is planning to start a flag-carrier airline nearly a quarter-century after the previous one went out of business in the country once known as Swaziland.
Starting later this year, Eswatini Air will fly from Mbabane to towns in neighbouring South Africa, including Johannesburg and Cape Town, according to Qiniso Dhlamini, chief executive officer of holding firm Royal Eswatini National Airways Corp.
To begin service, the state-owned airline has purchased two Embraer SA 145 regional planes, which will be decorated in a livery with a bateleur eagle logo.
Following the grounding of South Africa's Mango, which is in bankruptcy and awaiting government funds, Eswatini Air will increase connectivity in the region. Last month, the capacity deficit was exposed when Comair Ltd., the operator of low-cost Kulula and local British Airways flights, was grounded for five days due to safety concerns, causing prices to increase and airport disruption.
Royal Swazi National Airways, which discontinued operations in 1999, will be replaced by the new carrier. Since then, flights to Mbabane have been operated by a joint venture between the government and Airlink of South Africa, which has since been dismantled.
According to CEO Rodger Foster, Airlink will continue to operate the Johannesburg-Mbabane route independently. Workers from the previous partnership, Eswatini Airlink, will be rehired by the carrier.