6 November 2017

Zimbabwe: Air Zimbabwe Ailing, Too Noisy - Minister

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joram Gumbo has made a blunt condemnation of troubled national flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe, describing the company as both ailing and running noisy air-craft.

He was speaking in the upper house of parliament last Thursday where he revealed the airline's ambitions to reopen the long abandoned Harare-London route.

Gumbo had been asked by MDC-T Senator, James Makore how far the loss making airline had gone with plans of a return to servicing lucrative international routes.

"First and foremost, Air Zimbabwe itself is ailing; it is not doing very well as we are all aware," Gumbo said.

"This is why I requested cabinet to allow us to go into partnership with any other airline to make sure that we remain in the skies.

"Having done that, we also discovered that our books were not in good order and so we have started inviting our own indigenous people who might be interested in aviation to come and join us or come with whoever they may partner to ply our routes.

"As I speak, the aircraft that we have at Air Zimbabwe are old and cannot fly into Europe. Some are even banned from flying into South Africa because they make a lot of noise and that is a fact."

Gumbo said government has sent an SOS to locals interested in aviation to partner the national airliner or contribute some equipment in order to allow the firm to resume normal operations while performing at par with competitors.

"So, we are allowing other players, particularly Zimbabweans who are interested in aviation to partner us or to bring in their own equipment and ply our routes," he said.

The minister admitted deferring negotiations to resume the Harare-London route in partnership with other airlines to a company called Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company.

The negotiations were started by government and involved 12 international firms, among them the Ethiopian, Turkish and Malaysian Airlines.

"So, what has happened is that some enterprising Zimbabweans have taken off from the negotiations that I had already started and are now ready to take over or to bring in some aircraft, for which they have now applied for licence to fly to London, Dubai, the Far East, Nigeria and some long distant places like Cape Town within Africa.

"Their plans are also to fly to Sao Paulo; I think it is in Brazil," Gumbo said.

Zimbabwe's once thriving national carrier has seen its fortunes take a turn for the worse amid intense political interference by the Zanu PF led government.

Stories of its planes failing to stick by flying schedules, sometimes flying a single passenger or being forced to divert routes at the behest of President Robert Mugabe who would be travelling elsewhere, have contributed to the dipping fortunes of the national airliner.

Air Zimbabwe has suffered a job carnage past few years as more experienced pilots and other staff have left for greener pastures within the region and beyond.


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