Feasibility, viability and acceptability of an overnight air network chain-linking six (6) Southern African countries : Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.
This study seeks to assess the viability, acceptability and feasibility of an overnight air courier network linking Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. The positivist research approach was adopted in this study. A questionnaire was sent to each the regulatory bodies in the six countries under study. 40 questionnaires were also administered to respondents from air courier companies. Judgement sampling was used for questionnaire administration to regulatory bodies because of the reduced cost and time involved in this method. For courier air service providers, the researcher used simple random sampling because it ensures that the perceptions and views of everyone are represented. Study results show that most of the nations under consideration belong to sub-regional, regional and international groupings. Most nations would want to grant fifth freedom rights, but on a conditional basis. Also, the states advocate for liberalisation of air traffic because it results in improved service quality and courier companies do not offer money-back refunds if service guarantees are not met. Though courier companies do not offer overnight air courier services, they say such services are critical to their operation. Courier companies are dogged by inaccessibility of the market. Some of the major recommendations are that states should liberalise market access and other ancillary services such as ground handling. Specific provisions such as open route exchanges, multiple designation and the practice of 5th freedom should be implemented. The development of a regional aircraft maintenance centre should be explored as soon as possible. Furthermore, all the states should commit themselves to implementing the sub-regional safety projects. Countries should implement agreements they make as economic and political blocs because this leads to a shift away from restrictive bi-lateral air service agreements in favour of liberalised multi-lateral policies. A further study should be carried out to assess the impact of deregulation on service delivery in airline networks.