13 July 2018

Zimbabwe: Air Zim to Secure Technical Partner

Cabinet is expected to make a major pronouncement on Air Zimbabwe, amid indications that an inter-ministerial task-force put together to find a lasting solution to the problems dogging the national flag carrier, is tying up its recommendations that include securing a technical partner.

Sources close to the development say the inter-ministerial task-force has recommended that Air Zimbabwe be restructured to ensure employment costs don't continue to burden the company.

Director -- Aviation and Rail Transport -- in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development Allowance Sango, told Business Weekly that the revival of Air Zimbabwe was almost close.

However, Mr Sango declined to provide the nitty-gritties of the proposed recapitalisation deal.

Said Mr Sango: "There are a lot of exciting developments in the offing and as we speak, Government is looking forward to realign operational arrangements of our national airline.

"Stakeholders including Government are looking at the future of our airline. But before the political statement is made, I think I can leave you guessing of what would be announced."

When pressed to give the salient features of the Air Zimbabwe revival package, Mr Sango said: "There are a number of options that are on the table but as I said, in terms of protocol, I can't make a pronouncement until a ministerial presentation is made.

"But there are things that are in the making, very interesting in terms of both recapitalisation and restructuring, including possible mergers with strategic airlines, which decision has already been made by Cabinet."

An inter-ministerial task-force "strategically" put together by Government is understood to be "digesting" the turnaround proposals.

After that, the inter-ministerial task-force is expected to "make recommendations to Cabinet".

The recent Cabinet decision to open up local routes such as Harare-Bulawayo and Harare-Victoria Falls to other local aviation players such as FlyAfrica Zimbabwe and fastjet, is a clear indictment on the performance of Air Zimbabwe.

The opening up is in line with the "managed liberalisation" of the air transport sector to enhance destination connectivity for the benefit of travellers.

Bogged down by huge legacy debts of over $334 million, Air Zimbabwe has become increasingly unreliable and many travellers are beginning to shun it.

But the opening up of key local routes, which were previously dominated by the national airline, might impose a huge burden on the firm as it seeks to recover.

With smaller and efficient aircraft, fastjet is a low cost airline and it will take huge investments in smaller aircraft for Air Zimbabwe to be able to compete on the domestic routes.

On Wednesday, fastjet indicated it will resume flights on the Harare-Bulawayo route on July 20.

The company will start with fares of $59.

FlyAfrica, which is set to resume flights in the near future, has also been cleared to ply the Harare-Bulawayo route.

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