Airzim struggles to fly

Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter

Air Zimbabwe is flying one plane, with the other two grounded due to regulatory issues.

Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive, Mr Joseph Makonise, yesterday said the airline was expecting to resume plying international routes such as London next year as they were optimistic that they would pass an International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit which they lost in 2016.

Air Zimbabwe is under reconstruction in terms of the Reconstruction of State Indebted Companies and Insolvency Act whose effect had been to ring-fence its US$392 million debt.

Mr Makonise said this yesterday in the capital during an aviation stakeholders meeting that was hosted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.

“The nation at large has experienced difficulties, economic challenges and those have also affected us as an airline,” he said.

“We have got one aircraft, you can start the engine, everything is working perfectly, but because this is a heavily-regulated industry we have to comply.

“We were supposed to do certain things to the aircraft and we have not done it and we parked it. We cannot fly it, we have to comply. We ran short of equipment. We have got equipment lying idle in South Africa. We are using one plane only, a very inappropriate aircraft.

“We could not stop our operations completely, being the only airline in the country. We believe in accordance to our six-year strategic plan if we get the right equipment, then we should be able to spruce up our operations. We took delivery of an Embraer on 30 April. It has not flown, we are also affected by sanctions, there is a know your customer approval. Those are issues beyond our control.”

Mr Makonise said plying international routes should resume next year.

“We are looking at initiating operations into Europe in the last quarter of 2020,” he said.

“We went through the national audit, we lost the IASA certification in 2016. We went for re-examination. We have completed this and very soon we should be getting our results before the end of the year. Once we get that approval then we are certain to start operations in Europe. We are looking at the last quarter of 2020,” said Mr Makonise.

“We are currently under reconstruction and that has also helped us. What is required is a strong national airline. As a strong national airline it will facilitate travel and trade.

“When you have these two, the benefits flow back to the airline, there will be a lot of travel. I must admit we do not want to operate unprofitably.”

Mr Makonise said the airline was saddled with a US$392 million debt. It is hoped a strategic partner will be found to help liquidate it.

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