Zimbabwe has identified South African Airways as the preferred carrier for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation conference that it will co-host with Zambia in August next year, an official has said.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Mr Karikoga Kaseke said SAA was most likely to be the official carrier for the conference in the absence of Air Zimbabwe.
"The official position is that SAA is our preferred official carrier," he said.
Mr Kaseke said the choice was technical as SAA flew multiple international routes.
"SAA flies the most international routes where these delegates will be coming from. It is also a member of the Star Alliance and so is a good choice," he said.
He said SAA had already been approached and had shown interest to participate.
"There have been formal consultations with the SAA local office and the head office in South Africa and they were happy with our proposal," he said.
"An official statement will be issued in January next year," he said.
"In the event that they do not accept we will keep trying and move on to other airlines like Kenya(Airways)," he said.
Mr Kaseke dismissed reports that the national airliner was being sidelined saying Air Zimbabwe did not have the same capacity as its regional counterparts.
It had been widely expected that Airzim would be the official carrier for the UNWTO but it is unlikely the airline will revitalise its operations in time for the conference.
The national carrier risks being banned from flying into foreign airspace if it fails to comply with a 90-day International Air Transport Association deadline on global safety standards.
The national carrier is beset with a host of challenges chiefly a debt overhang of US$100 million and an ageing fleet.