GOVERNMENT is talking to 12 potential suitors for Air Zimbabwe as it continues to explore options to revive the national flag carrier. Some of the potential partners include Ethiopian Airlines, Angolan Airlines, Boeing, Emirates and Airbus.Airbus is a division of France-based multinational Airbus Group SE that manufactures civil aircraft, while Boeing is an American corporation that designs, manufactures and sells aeroplanes, rotorcraft and rockets worldwide. It also provides leasing and product support services.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Jorum Gumbo told The Sunday Mail Business last week that Government wanted Air Zimbabwe to operate at full capacity.
“When you talk of partnerships, those that we want to partner have to be vetted first to establish their standing. So it is a Government process to investigate the companies we may want to team up with.
‘‘We have identified about 12 airlines, which if we agree with, we may partner.
“But we have not stopped there; we are also doing our bit to see what we can do to resuscitate Air Zimbabwe so that it operates at full capacity,” said Dr Gumbo.
But as Government assesses its options, there is growing concern over the appointment of Professor Chipo Dyanda as Air Zimbabwe board chair.
Critics say Prof Dyanda, who served as Zupco board chair from 2002, cannot be expected to successfully lead the airliner considering her failure to rehabilitate the bus company.
A member of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development, who refused to be identified, said Prof Dyanda was a “square peg in a round hole”.
“We would have wanted someone with aviation experience to be on the board and revamp the flag carrier,” said the MP.
However, Government insisted that since her appointment on May 15, 2016, the new board chair has been performing well.
“Professor Dyanda is an excellent worker, very hardworking; a person that I can call an ‘Iron Lady’ in administration. She is very focused and for the short time she has been Air Zimbabwe board chair, she has executed herself extremely well and as far as I am concerned, she has done a wonderful job.
“She has come up with a lot of ideas; she is very much well focused and knows exactly what she is doing. She is helping me very much at this particular time, I am having sound sleep because I have somebody in the driving seat who knows exactly what she is doing. I am not flattering you or her (but) I am telling you the truth,” said Dr Gumbo.
Last week, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport chair Mr Dexter Nduna said Air Zimbabwe should leverage on its safety record to attract the right partner.
“If we revamp Air Zimbabwe, then we can optimally use the Victoria Falls Airport, the Joshua Nkomo Airport and the Harare International Airport,” said Mr Nduna.
Independent estimates suggest Air Zimbabwe requires about US$1 billion to procure new aircraft and service both its domestic and foreign debts.
The debt accrued from navigation, landing and handling fees, fuel supplies, salary arrears and rentals.
Currently, Air Zimbabwe operates five aircraft — two Boeing 767s, one Boeing 737, one MA60 and an Airbus A320 which it acquired on lease from Angola’s Sonangol.
Air Zimbabwe has been shelling out US$400 000 monthly over the last four years to lease two Airbuses.
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