As a Cabin Crew Member of Zambia’s leading airline, Proflight Zambia, Penjani Kakwende takes his job very seriously.
Not only is he responsible for passengers’ comfort on board, but their safety is also in his hands, an aspect of flying that has lead him to gain extra qualifications from the Zambia Civil Aviation Authority as a safety instructor.
Along with his colleagues in Proflight’s team of professional and talented people Mr Kakwende works hard to keep the airline efficient and safe.
Training is a big part of that, and with 14 years of flying experience, he recently qualified as an instructor after completing the train the trainers course in 2018.
“Proflight has challenged my abilities; they have taken me for training, and I am required to get the necessary type training on the recent aircraft we have acquired. It’s really exciting,” said Mr Kakwende.
“If you look at the cabin crew job, people just think about it in terms of snacks, beers, juice, coffees and teas, and the safety demonstration.”
“But the safety aspect of it is what we are there for; it’s a career that is focused on satisfying customer care in a safe and friendly environment.”
Coming from a family of three, Mr Kakwende draws his inspiration to fly from his father who once worked for the former Zambia Airways.
And today he looks to his wife, who gives him the motivation to achieve and do better. “I am married to my beautiful woman Chrissy; she always challenges me to be the best version of myself and every time I look at her it’s like sunset every day.”
Mr Kakwende joined Zambia’s aviation industry after completing high school as a young fellow full of enthusiasm to reach for the skies.
He first flew with Zambian Airways, which trained him as a cabin crew member, and when the airline closed he moved to Zambezi Airlines. After the closure of Zambezi, he joined Proflight in 2012.
“It’s a very fast-paced industry; it’s an exciting day at the office every day. There is no dull moment because no flight is like the last one and that’s what keeps it fresh,” he explained.
To propel his career to greater heights, Mr Kakwende has taken-up new challenges: “It’s been challenging; it’s a lot of work. It requires of you to do extra studying and study a lot more widely than you have initially done, so you get to know and have a broader scope of the aviation industry and regulations.”
And as a qualified and experienced cabin safety officer, Mr Kakwende said: “I am a qualified First Aider and safety officer, which is more than teas and coffees.”
“I completed the Train the Trainer course by Cranfield Aviation in 2018. This makes me an aviation instructor and I am able to impart knowledge training to those doing refresher courses.”
“The experience you have on the first flight to a destination is always a different experience as you meet new people. On your flight back you will have another whole new experience that presents different challenges that require you to apply the skills and training you have acquired as a cabin crew member.”
It’s a huge responsibility but there are lighter sides to his 14-year career in the sky.
Chatting about one of the funniest moments in the air, Mr Kawende said: “My funniest moments are when I talk to a passenger, telling them what snacks we have for them but still the next person still asks what you have!”
“You greet them and tell them what snacks we have but the next person seated to the person I was speaking to will still ask. It gives me that kind of smile and funny reminder, but I believe any passenger aboard requires the personal experience with you.”
Hence, flying high as the airlines’ brand ambassador, Mr Kakwende said: “Flying is addictive once you fly: the adrenalin rush and meeting the expectations and the short-turn arounds. Every time the plane takes off and lands you know you have achieved your target.”
“And my most exciting moments as a cabin crew member are when I welcome newlyweds, celebrities, and politicians aboard; it is always interesting to meet people of different statures.”
In those moments Mr Kakwende has met celebrities like actor Harrison Ford, legendary footballer Sir Kenny Dalglish, South African actor Barker Haines, afro singer Miriam Makeba and politicians like the late Michael Chilufya Sata and Dr Kenneth Kaunda.
It is all in a day’s work for Mr Kakwende, for whom every passenger is a VIP.
About Proflight Zambia
Proflight Zambia was established in 1991 and is Zambia’s leading scheduled airline. From its base in Lusaka its domestic routes include Livingstone, Mfuwe, Ndola, Solwezi and Ndola-Solwezi and regional routes to Lilongwe in Malawi, Durban in South Africa.
The airline prides itself in providing a safe, reliable, efficient and friendly service, and offering good value to business and leisure travellers locally and internationally.
The airline operates a 50-seater Bombardier CRJ-100 jet, 50-seat Bombardier Dash 8-300, and three 29-seater Jetstream 41 aircraft.
More information is available at www.flyzambia.com.