Government yesterday announced that new reforms are in place to revive the troubled national airline Air Zimbabwe by buying more airplanes to add to the current fleet and the planes are expected to add momentum in an effort to open Zimbabwe to investment and also boost local tourism and trade.
Cde Joel Biggie Matiza, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, admitted that four Boeing 777 planes that were previously gained by Zimbabwe Airways will be transferred to Air Zimbabwe on top of the Embraer aircraft that was purchased in the United States of America.
In a brief read yesterday in the cabinet by Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development has been given the platform to recondition the National Airline by acquiring four Boeing 777 from Malaysia and seek delivery of an Embraer aircraft which was purchased from United States of America. The four Boeing 777 planes are expected to service regional and international routes, while the Embraer aircraft will be for domestic routes.
Reports claim that in 2018, a company linked to Simba Chikore, the former President’s son-in-law, called Zimbabwe Airways had acquired the four Boeing 777s from Malaysia.
However according to Minister Matiza, Zimbabwe Airways was owned by government and will be merged with Air Zimbabwe as it is a government entity. Air Zimbabwe does not have the sufficient aircraft mix, thus the airline to operate at a deficit. With the new aircraft in place, the government intends to consolidate Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways to complement one another on local and international routes.
Air Zimbabwe, in the last few years has been underperforming and was placed under reconstruction in October 2018 under Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act (Chapter 24:27). This gesture was drafted to allow Air Zimbabwe an opportunity to clear its $334 million debt.
Boeing 767-200, one of Air Zimbabwe’s long haul aircraft, was confiscated by American General Supplies at Gatwick International Airport in London in December 2011 over a debt heavily amounting to $1, 2 million.