17 February 2013

Zimbabwe: 'Air Zim Needs Revamp'

AIR Zimbabwe's acting group CEO, Innocent Mavhunga has attributed the airline's woes to the continued use of obsolete equipment that does not meet market demands.

"The current business model is not viable at all and it will not be viable as long as we continue using such," Mavhunga told a parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport and Communication last week.

"We really need smaller regional jets in the capacity of 50 to 70-seater. once we have such type of equipment, then our business becomes viable."

Mavhunga said the airline was using a 737 for domestic route.

The 105-passenger plane is too big on a route where the average load factor is around 50 passengers per flight.

"The average load factor we carry to and from Bulawayo and Victoria Falls is around 40 to 50 passengers. on a good day, especially on weekends, that's when we get 75 to 80 passengers," Mavhunga said.

Aviation experts say the airline's woes were worsened by the decade-long economic crisis that was eased by the use of multi-currencies in 2009.

Although Zimbabwe's economy has showed signs of improvement since dollarisation, it is still struggling to fully recover.

companies are facing viability problems and most of them are battling to operate at maximum capacity.

Air Zimbabwe interim board chairman, who is also the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Infrastructure Development, Munesu Munodawafa told the committee that the airline was struggling to get a strategic partner because of the debt.

"On the issue of securing a strategic partner, I think it must be noted from the onset that Air Zimbabwe has a debt of almost US$188 million," said Munodawafa.

"US$30 million is what we owe to the externals and the rest is owed to various government departments or other state institutions."

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