Michael Tome, Business Reporter
AIR Zimbabwe says the delivery of a Boeing 777-200ER earlier this week for long haul flights is a positive step towards the turnaround of the national airline.
The country took delivery of the 282-seater plane on Monday, a laudable gesture towards the revival of Air Zimbabwe, which has been operating with a single plane after experiencing challenges with its Boeing 737-200ER, last year.
As part of initiatives to reconstruct Air Zimbabwe into a robust airliner Grant Thornton assistant administrator, Tonderai Mukubvu noted that the airliner intends to introduce narrow and medium bodied aircraft to increase frequencies on regional feeder routes to support the re-introduction of B777’s international routes.
He further indicated that some of the plans on cards to enhance the airline’s business included re-joining the IATA clearing house and activation of the Global Distribution Systems to allow Air Zimbabwe flights to be sold globally and enhance passenger loads.
In an interview following concerns that the plane might struggle finding requisite passengers’ traffic (because of size), the assistant administrator stated that the plane will be designated to strategic destinations that will enable cash flow generation for further investment into small aircraft.
“We have plans to have narrow and medium bodied aircraft, to develop a robust domestic and regional network, which will become the feeder for the long haul international flights to be operated by the B777s,” said Mr Mukubvu.
In the past year Air Zimbabwe attained IATA Operational Safety Audit Certification (IOSA) and now aims to attain European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification — all intended to ease interruptions in the operations of the airline.
Upon receiving the plane on Monday, Air Zimbabwe administrator Mr Reggie Saruchera noted that his management remains committed to ensuring the restoration of the brand Air Zimbabwe as a formidable player in the airline industry as well as being an enabler to trade and tourism.
“ . . . handover of the B777 aircraft to Air Zimbabwe marks a major milestone in the reconstruction process of our national airline. The main objective for the reconstruction process is to allow for recovery, the restructuring and re-organisation of Air Zimbabwe to ensure sustainable operations and successful turnaround going forward,” added Mr Saruchera.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza has hinted that his office is in discussions with the Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube for assistance in the acquisition of smaller aircraft to service the regional network.