Air Zim gets strategic partner
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