Air Zim gets strate­gic part­ner

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Leonard Ncube in Vic­to­ria Falls

THE Gov­ern­ment has se­cured a busi­ness part­ner to fi­nance strug­gling na­tional air­liner, Air Zim­babwe, and en­sure it re­turns to vi­a­bil­ity.

Air Zim­babwe runs seven air­crafts to three African coun­tries and is look­ing at part­ner­ships to re­or­gan­ise it­self with the goal of re­open­ing di­rect flights to Lon­don early next year.

Trans­port and In­fras­truc­ture De­vel­op­ment Deputy Min­is­ter En­gi­neer Michael Madanha yes­ter­day told del­e­gates at the 48th ses­sion of the Africa Air­lines As­so­ci­a­tion (AFRAA) An­nual Gen­eral As­sem­bly that the Gov­ern­ment was sup­port­ing the air­liner so it gets back to its feet.

“We are con­tin­u­ing to up­grade our air­ports due to the re­al­i­sa­tion of the strate­gic im­por­tance that the air­line in­dus­try plays in de­vel­op­ment. As Gov­ern­ment we are sup­port­ing the na­tional air­liner within the lim­its of the re­sources avail­able to us so that it con­tin­ues to play its strate­gic role.

“In pur­suit of this goal, the Gov­ern­ment of Zim­babwe ap­proved the en­gage­ment of a strate­gic part­ner in an ef­fort to re­cap­i­talise Air Zim­babwe and the process is now un­der­way,” said Eng Madanha.

He could not be drawn into re­veal­ing the name of the part­ner say­ing it was too early to do so.

The Deputy Min­is­ter said the coun­try now boasts of state-of-the-art air­port fa­cil­i­ties that need good air­craft.

“We have good air­ports and we hope with this en­tire in­fras­truc­ture we need good planes,” he said.

In an in­ter­view on the side­lines of the oc­ca­sion, Deputy Min­is­ter Madanha said Air Zim­babwe could be re­sum­ing di­rect flights to Lon­don early next year if all goes well.

“Air Zim­babwe will soon fly di­rect to Lon­don. There is no di­rect flight to Lon­don and that’s an in­con­ve­nience,” he said.

Eng Madanha said Air Zim­babwe air­crafts were very old hence the need for re­place­ments.

The na­tional air­liner has in the past ex­pe­ri­enced mid-air tech­ni­cal faults and forced to ei­ther to di­vert its routes or make emer­gency land­ings.

Speak­ing at the same oc­ca­sion, Air Zim­babwe chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Cap­tain Rip­ton Muzenda said the na­tional air­liner was in en­gage­ment with a num­ber of big air­lines to forge part­ner­ships.

“We are still ne­go­ti­at­ing with dif­fer­ent air­lines. The ne­go­ti­a­tions are very se­ri­ous as we are in talks with dif­fer­ent part­ners,” he said.

Asked about the “strate­gic part­ner”, Cap­tain Muzenda said the process was on­go­ing and the part­ner would be an­nounced in due course as the na­tional air­liner pushes for syn­er­gies.

Be­cause of lack of vol­umes of traf­fic, Air Zim­babwe is op­er­at­ing small flights and Cap­tain Muzenda said whether they would be buy­ing new air­craft or leas­ing from oth­ers, would de­pend on num­bers.

“We are cur­rently not fly­ing long haul air­craft be­cause of num­bers. What guides us on size of air­craft and whether we will buy or lease is vol­umes and our op­tions will de­pend on what’s avail­able,” he told jour­nal­ists at a press con­fer­ence. Air Zim­babwe is the cur­rent AFRAA pres­i­dent. More than 550 del­e­gates from African air­lines, man­u­fac­tur­ers and part­ners are meet­ing for the three-day sum­mit that ends to­day.

The con­fer­ence is an op­por­tu­nity for Zim­babwe to show­case its hospi­tal­ity and the unique tourist attractions as well as mar­ket its fa­cil­i­ties. - @ncubeleon

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