Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter
Government has approved the engagement of a technical partner to assist in resolving the financial and equipment challenges faced by Air Zimbabwe, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Dr Joram Gumbo said this during a familiarisation tour of the airline offices yesterday.
Addressing Air Zimbabwe officials, Dr Gumbo said Cabinet had approved that the airline should engage a partner.
“The ministry is aware of your financial and equipment challenges, and to that effect I have submitted a paper to Cabinet on the engagement of a technical partner for the airline.
“Cabinet has approved the concept in principle, but we now await guidance on finer details of our proposal. Once approved, I urge both management and the board to work closely with the ministry for speedy conclusion of the matter. That will resolve the perennial challenge of the need for fleet modernisation,” he said.
Dr Gumbo said he was aware that a number of low cost airlines had entered the market and this should not worry Air Zimbabwe as their targeted markets were different. He said he was concerned that the airline has had no substantive chief executive for a long time to superintend over the organisation.
“To that effect I have tasked the board to initiate and move with speed with the recruitment process. This is critical to bring stability to the organisation,” Dr Gumbo said.
He said he was also happy that the airline, with the assistance of Government had managed to have the two Boeing 767 and one Airbus A320 on flight.
He urged the board and management to bring finality to the issue of retrenchments.
“However, given financial challenges you have, you should explore innovative ways of addressing the expectations of the retrenched ones,” he said.
He was accompanied by his deputy Engineer Michael Madanha and senior Government officials also toured the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ).
Dr Gumbo said he was aware of the industrial challenges that CAAZ was facing particularly arising from the fact that over 50 people had their contracts terminated.
He said in view of the impending commissioning of the Victoria Falls International Airport, they need to perfect their product in consultation with key stakeholders.
Dr Gumbo said the ministry had assisted CAAZ to secure funding to the tune of $500 000 for the upgrade and repairs of the Harare Airport runway.
“Government is moving on with the splitting of CAAZ into a regulatory authority and Airports Company in line with international best practice. Ministry is aware that the process is behind schedule but the target is to complete the project this year,” he said.
Dr Gumbo said the ministry said CAAZ would soon get a new board.