Air Zimbabwe’s much- vaunted safety record is meaningless because the airline does not fly much, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke, has said.
The Sate-owned carrier was last month barred from flying into Europe after failing to address safety deficiencies picked up during European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) operator audits.
Air Zimbabwe frequently talks up its safety record, but Kaseke, the former head of Zimbabwe’s civil aviation authority, refuses to read too much into that.
“Air Zimbabwe flies twice only to South Africa in a day, once in the morning and spends the whole day parked there and flies back in the evening. It does not fly anywhere in the world other than South Africa,” Kaseke said during the launch of the annual tourism and travel expo Hlanganani/ Sanganai in Bulawayo recently.
“Those who calculate safety of airlines use the number of aircraft that you fly per hour, per day, and per minute to determine safety. They always say the more the aircraft you fly the higher the risk of plane crashes. As for Air Zimbabwe, I am not sure whether this template applies with our one flight to South Africa in the morning and another one in the evening.”
He said Air Zimbabwe was a victim of poor strategic decisions.
“These guys tried to fly to routes outside the South African one. But they got their entire math wrong.
“How do you fly an MA 60 aircraft to a place such as Zambia where you compete with the likes of Emirates, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways who have bigger aircraft? It shows that there is something wrong with the business approach and it needs to be sorted out,” he added.
“All we have been given as excuses for failing to get our things straight is that the concerns by the British authorities about our Air Zimbabwe’s safety is political. No. It’s not political.
“It has nothing to do with (Tony) Blair. He left a long time back. We just need to have our things in order and do things properly.”
Responding to questions why the ZTA had entered into memorandums of understanding with other airlines for the transportation of buyers for the Hlanganani/ Sanganai Tourism Expo, while seemingly ignoring Air Zimbabwe, Kaseke blamed management at the national airline.
“We could have signed an MoU with Air Zimbabwe long back, four years to be precise. But this habit of saying the board will have to approve that MoU has taken us this long before we have the MoU signed.
“We sent the draft of the MoU to the Air Zimbabwe board led by the late (Jonathan) Kadzura.
“We sent another one to the subsequent board and another one again, and nothing has come out of it yet they worry why we have signed MoUs with the likes of Ethiopian Airways and others,” explained Kaseke. Financial Gazette