AIR ZIMBABWE which until Monday, had only one functional plane and 232 employees received a new Boeing B777 from Malaysia at an undisclosed cost and supplier.
Three more planes are set to arrive in the following weeks.
Speaking this Monday on the arrival of the new Boeing which was brought by the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Joe Biggie Matiza from Malaysia, the Acting President Retired General Constantino Chiwenga said he was pleased with the Ministry’s commitment to revive the national airline.
“Am quite impressed, this is kind of the long-haul we have been waiting for and we will continue to bring in more planes. The other planes will be coming in February, said the Acting President
The Acting President said the acquisition of the new planes will greatly boost the tourism sector.
“This will make us competitive with other nations. We will be able to take our routes. And these new babies will fly nonstop. We take cognisance of the important role that the aviation industry plays as one of the global industries connecting businesses across continents.
“This asset comes at a crucial moment as we aim to increase the amount of trade and business in line with our far-reaching mantra that Zimbabwe is open for business. The receipt of this is a clear indication that we are dedicated to reviving our national airline. The existence of a viable airline is critical for the flourishment of the tourism industry. A viable airline also plays a critical role in enhancing trade and commerce,” he said.
Minister Matiza also emphasised that the acquisition of the new planes is part of the government’s commitment to fulfilling vision 2030.
“My ministry has made an undertaking to roll up its sleeves in the implementation of Zimbabwe’s economic blueprint for the attainment of the country’s vision 2030 of an upper-middle-class economy. Our contribution to the attainment of this vision will be driven by our desire to exploit opportunities for growth in passenger air travel and cargo business. It is in this context that efforts to revive Air-Zimbabwe our national airline is of utmost importance to us.
“We are optimistic that this equipment will go a long way in unlocking value in our aviation industry. And we are proud of this gesture as it demonstrates the government’s commitment to reviving the national airline. The second aircraft is in the final stages of maintenance to ensure it is airworthy and ready to be deployed to Harare shortly, said Matiza.
Air Zimbabwe, which owes foreign and domestic creditors millions of dollars, is among State-owned entities, which also include telecoms operators NetOne and TelOne; Chemplex and POSB, that the government listed for privatisation. Airzim has been operating with a single plane (Boeing 737-200), mainly servicing Harare-Bulawayo and Victoria Falls routes, as well as Harare-Johannesburg and Harare-Dar es Salaam regional routes.
It has two Airbus A320-200, two Boeing 767-200, two Boeing 737-200, British Aerospace 146-200 and an Embraer ERJ-145, which are grounded due to functional deficiencies. The insolvent airline has a staff complement of over 232 employees at its Harare base, local outstations and regional offices. The national flag carrier was advised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to focus its efforts on optimising routes to reduce operating costs and replace ageing high-cost planes used on domestic routes with smaller planes that will operate with higher load factors.