By Zvamaida Murwira and Nesia Mhaka
Air Zimbabwe’s revival efforts have received a boost after Government indicated that two of the four Boeing 777-200 ER planes bought from Malaysia will be in the country by month-end.
This comes as Government is finalising assumption of the national airline’s US$380 million debt which has seen Air Zimbabwe struggling to court investment partners.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said Government has fully paid for the two passenger planes.
He said the delivery of the two planes dove-tailed with Government’s plan to revive the national airline.
“Two of the planes have already been fully paid for and we are expecting them in the country this month,” he said.
Minister Matiza said they were working on the routes the planes would be plying and announcements would be made once that was finalised.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube told the National Assembly on Tuesday that the country would soon take delivery of two planes from Malaysia.
“I must say that we have been sufficiently been briefed by the Ministry of Transport that at least one aircraft will arrive before Christmas and maybe, by year end 2019, both planes from Malaysia will arrive,” he said.
“We have paid for the aircraft. So, we are making progress in our quest to rebuild credible Air Zimbabwe. On Air Zimbabwe recapitalisation, Treasury takes note of the need to come up with an innovative mechanism for us to do a debt assumption of US$381 million for Air Zimbabwe in turning around the airline.”
The delivery of the two B777s follows the delivery of an Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft about two months ago.
Air Zimbabwe has largely been operating two serviceable aircraft, but only one has been flying of late.
The national airline expects to have one of its Boeing 737-200s back in the skies soon to complement the 767-200ER now servicing domestic and regional routes.
It services the Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route daily in the morning and then flies to Johannesburg four times a week and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania twice a week.
The other planes have been grounded due to old age and shortage of spares and foreign currency.
Another Air Zimbabwe plane has been parked at O.R Tambo International Airport in South Africa for some time and efforts are underway to bring it back home.
Aviation experts have called on Air Zimbabwe to improve air connectivity to complement Zimbabwe’s drive to attract foreign direct investment as well as enhancing tourist arrivals.
Other regional airlines have taken advantage of improved tourist arrivals, particularly in Victoria Falls, following the expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport, to increase their frequency.
Victoria Falls is one of the local destinations that is widely publicised by foreign travel agents. The Chronicle