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Zimbabwe Airways back on track

by Staff reporter
28 Mar 2018 at 12:28hrs | Views
The project to establish a new airline, Zimbabwe Airways, whose relationship with AirZim is opaque, is moving towards finality amid revelations that documentation is now in the final stage and should be cleared soon.

Zimbabwe Airways, according to information gathered by this paper, is owned by a local firm, Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company (ZALC). The company was formed by a group of Zimbabwean investors, among them lawyers and businesspersons with interests in the aviation industry. Some of the ZALC shareholders are said to be based in the diaspora.

An enquiry with the Deeds Office in Harare indicated ZALC was registered under file number 3015/12. The file was, however, missing from the office, meaning the directors could not be immediately ascertained. But information obtained shows that Zimbabwe Airways had acquired four long-haul Boeing 777 aircraft from Malaysia Airlines.

Jerry Haas an aviation specialist said, "Air Zimbabwe will remain as is. This is another airline like @fastjet #flyafrica @rainbowairline joining the Zimbabwean Aviation scale."

Last year, AirZim rolled out an ambitious plan to overhaul the company that will see Treasury expunging the airline's legacy debts, estimated at US$330 million, by way of liquidation before acquiring new planes from Asia.

Many expect Air Zimbabwe, which flies daily into Johannesburg, and which has been in operation for more then 70 years, may soon cease to exist. Or its diminishing assets may be absorbed by the new company.

Air Zimbabwe cannot fly to London for safety reasons and was grounded at Gatwick Airport in 2012 for two weeks by a US supplier of spare parts. After the US debt was finally paid, Air Zimbabwe decided not to continue flying to London.

And although Air Zim's fleet supposedly comprises 10 "active" aircraft - two Boeing 767s, three 737s, three MA60s and two Airbus A320s - well-placed sources said that the debt-ridden national airline now only has three of these in the air, servicing both its domestic and regional routes.

This comes as its creaky aircraft have also been banned from flying into Europe by the European Commission, for safety reasons.

Air Zim was, in addition, also struggling to service and to fuel its few operating planes due to viability problems that were threatening its survival.

This had triggered an outcry among passengers, who were more often than not being left stranded at local and regional airports due to the flag carrier's long-standing budgetary and operational challenges.

Even Transport minister Joram Gumbo has painted a bleak picture of the national airline's fortunes, which he said was relying on government bailouts for what remains of its business.

"There is nothing to expect from that front unless we get money. For now, it's a sinking company. For example, Air Zimbabwe asks government to purchase fuel for it on a daily basis and it cannot run on its own," Gumbo said.

Although the airline had deployed one of its Boeing 767-200 to mitigate the situation then, this had also at the same time created scheduling chaos for other passengers flying to other destinations, such as those who were going to Bulawayo.

Source - Byo24News