Business Reporter —
Zimbabwe’s new airline, Rainbow Airlines, made its maiden commercial flight to Victoria Falls yesterday. The bombardier CRJ aircraft, which took an hour had 40 passengers on board.
The airline’s CEO Mr Ed Berry said the maiden commercial flight was a milestone for the airline.
“We are happy that the flight has gone smoothly and we hope to build on that,” he said.
Mr Berry said that the initial flight will be followed by the commencement of flights between Harare and Johannesburg next month.
“We do not have a specific date yet (for Johannesburg), but we will be flying three times weekly on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and we hope to increase that to daily flights within two months.
“We are not a budget airline, but we will be charging competitive rates on this route and we are hoping that our numbers will be good since we have a small plane,” he said.
The airline will have to contend with competition from Air Zimbabwe, South African Airways, fastjet and British Airways operated by Comair, which are already servicing the route.
He added that they are expecting to get a second CRJ100 aircraft within the first four months of operation, to assist in servicing increased routes and frequencies.
Apart from the Harare-Johannesburg and Harare-Victoria Falls routes, Mr Berry said the wholly Zimbabwean-owned company, will also be interested in the Harare-Cape Town, Harare-Nairobi, Harare-Lubumbashi and Kinshasa, Harare-Durban, Bulawayo-Johannesburg, Harare- Beira and Maputo routes.
“Later, we plan to add more domestic routes, which will include Harare to Kariba, Bulawayo, Mutare, Hwange, Masvingo, Buffalo Range and Beitbridge,” said Mr Berry.
Rainbow Airlines has a business relationship with CemAir Ltd, a privately owned airline operating in South Africa, which services popular destinations and leases aircraft to other airlines across Africa and the Middle East.
Rainbow airlines, which failed to take off in its initial attempt after the project founders got stunted with financial hurdles, was assisted by a local finance and investment Advisory firm, GMRI Capital that structured a deal that saw an investment into the business, which is now running beyond $1 million, and a sale of equity of 70 percent to an institutional investor.
The other 30 percent is held by a local medical doctor.