AGS acquires US$2m latest tech equipment The equipment comprising pushback tugs, tow tugs, electrical tugs, and container dollies, among others, was procured from South Africa (File Picture)

Business Correspondent

AVIATION Ground Services (AGS), which provides cargo handling has invested US$2 million in acquiring state-of-the-art passenger handling equipment, as the firm seeks to revolutionise and modernise its operations.

The firm, which has over two decades in the aviation ground handling industry services, specialising in cargo-handling services, begins to roll out the passenger handling service next week.

The equipment comprising pushback tugs, tow tugs, electrical tugs, and container dollies, among others, were procured from South Africa.

In an interview after the commissioning of the aviation ground services passenger handling equipment by Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona who was represented by Dr Loveness Masuka-Dumwa the chief director in his ministry, AGS managing director for passenger operations Mr Togara Mushonga said through the new start of the art equipment his organisation is now able to handle wide-body aircraft as well as narrow-body aircraft.

“Thanks to our shareholders and the bankers, we managed to buy more than US$2 million worth of equipment.

This equipment is enough and we have already distributed some to JM Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo, Victoria Falls International Airport, Hwange and Kariba airports, so we are ready,” he said.

The company has so far recruited more than 200 workers for passenger operations alone and this is in full support of the Government’s employment creation initiative.

Under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), the Government has also prioritised employment creation to uplift the living standards of the citizenry as the country seeks to attain an upper middle-income economy status by 2030.

“We have recruited more than 200 employees for passenger operations alone and this is in full support of the Government initiative to get rid of unemployment, so we managed to tap into those people with qualifications and we trained them.

“Thanks to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) for creating a training school for aviation and all our employees have been trained.

“This industry is highly regulated so for someone to be allowed access to the airport or to the rump, they have to have mandatory courses and now as we speak those 200 employees have been trained in those mandatory courses and they are ready to handle any type of aircraft,” said Mr Mushonga.

“Our coming in, we are not looking at other players as competitors. We have been working well with the NHS (National Handling Services) for a long time ever since when the NHS was created.

“The fact that we now have more equipment is a plus for the country because of all the shortcomings that were there at the airports, it means we can now complement each other so the NHS is not an enemy, we are brothers in trying to lift up the flag for the country because good services means more airlines.”

He said their strategy was not to accommodate all the airlines as they do not intend to cripple NHS, a company wholly owned by the Government under the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.

In the meantime, AGS is starting with Fastjet at five of the country’s airports including Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, and Victoria Falls International Airport.

“Harare alone, Fastjet has about an average of 12 turnaround flights, this industry is very particular on the turnaround time so we are taking Fastjet and we will be handling them at all the airports.

In his speech earlier, AGS station manager for Harare and Kariba Mr Shingirai Ruombwa said their mandate is to improve the service level in the aviation business in Zimbabwe.

“We have reason to become the country’s largest freight handler with over 75 percent of the market share. This milestone has been attained through the formation of high-performance teams.

“AGS has exhibited a continuous dedication to service quality and best practices . . . ground handling is the lubricant that keeps the air transport industry running smoothly and we have played a role in ensuring effective freight flow in and out of the country for the past 22 years,” said Mr Ruombwa.

In his remarks, AGS chairman Musekiwa Kumbula pledged that his organisation would deliver service excellence.

“We are going to give our best to this industry.

“You know that at the airport, people coming to visit this country get their first impression at the airport, we are going to ensure that our team will give appropriate reception and appropriate service excellence because people tend to form their impression from how they are received at the airport.

“And as they leave this country, their last impression will come from how we are able to receive and interface with them,” he said.

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