STRONG doubts have emerged over claims by Air Zimbabwe’s former chief operating officer Simba Chikore (also known as Simba Mutsahuni) that he is a full aviation captain who flew over 7 000 hours at Qatar Airways and AirZim.
In a recent interview with our sister paper, The Standard, Chikore revealed that he had over 7 000 hours of flying and was one of the youngest captains who were short-listed by Qatar Airways when he joined the airline.
“I was sitting there reading a newspaper and there was Qatar Airways employing pilots and that is the week I was supposed to come to Zimbabwe. Surprisingly, they had called me to say stay longer. I knew I was not ready for this and I took a book that I thought they were going to use during the interviews,” Chikore said in an interview.
“I read the book for the whole week. I went to the hotel where Qatar Airways were doing the interviews, it was on a Monday and I asked if I could be allowed to come on Friday. I said I was not ready. They agreed. I was the youngest and the only black captain there and everyone was in their late 40s and they were looking at me saying what are you doing here?
“When I walked in for my interview, I was asked what aircraft do you want to fly, the 737 or the airbus 320 or the Boeing 777 and I said I have only flown the 777 but I would be happy to take any plane you assign me to. That is how I joined Qatar Airways flying the 777. Now I have over 7 000 hours on the 777 alone.”
However, information gathered from aviation industry sources at AirZim and Qatar Airways has cast doubt on Chikore’s claim that he has ever flown as a captain in Zimbabwe and the peninsular Arab country. “He was never captain anywhere! He could not possibly have accumulated 7 000hrs on the B777. He was there as a first officer. He was tested for command on the 777 and failed. So he never made it past first officer on any aircraft,” a source said.
Commenting on Chikore’s appointment as COO, the sources said this position did not exist within AirZim and was only created to accommodate former president Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law. Chikore is married to Mugabe’s daughter Bona.
Efforts to get comment from Chikore were in vain.