Air Zim eyes post-pandemic revival

09 Aug, 2020 - 00:08 0 Views
Air Zim eyes post-pandemic revival

The Sunday Mail

Ishemunyoro Chingwere

National flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe, is targeting a post Covid-19 revival with plans afoot to venture into regional and international routes.

The move is part of strategies being employed to take the airline out of the woods by its administrator Reggie Saruchera of Grant Thornton.

The troubled airliner was placed under reconstruction in 2018 in terms of the Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act (Chapter 24:27).

Like all airlines across the globe, the national airliner has taken a significant hit from the health pandemic, with passenger flights — except for special repatriations — screeching to a halt as a result of international lockdowns.

In a notice to creditors this week, the airline gave an update on its operations in the face of Covid-19 and said it had only retained a skeletal staff to ensure continuity. The airline gave an equipment update on four of its airplanes.

“The equipment will be strategically deployed into service post Covid-19 restrictions,” reads part of the update.

“The airline will focus on domestic and regional routes to support international services based on demand,” said the national flag carrier.

On equipment, the Boeing 777-200ER Aircraft (Z-RGM & Z-NBE), was taken to Ethiopia in April for mandatory maintenance to ensure continued airworthiness.

It is now expected back in Harare in preparation for deployment this month subject to the lifting of travel restrictions.

The Embraer (ERJ145) Aircraft (Z-WPQ) is set for major mandatory maintenance in South Africa once the lockdown travel restrictions are lifted after which it will be deployed for domestic and regional operations.

The B737 aircraft Z-WPA was issued with a certificate of airworthiness and is earmarked for domestic and regional routes.

The B767 aircraft Z-WPF is now back in service after previously experiencing an air turn back due to a technical fault while on charter service from Bangkok, Thailand to Islamabad, Pakistan.

Plans are afoot to dry lease the B777-200ER aircraft.

Earlier this year Air Zimbabwe’s administrator said revenue acquired from leasing some of the airlines’ planes would be used to acquire smaller aircraft to re-establish strong domestic and regional services.

Creating a strong domestic and regional feeder network will help boost the airline’s passenger volumes, which will then feed into bigger aircrafts in the long-term (although timelines may now need to be extended due to the impact of Covid-19 on the aviation sector).

A strong fleet will build up Air Zimbabwe’s capacity to meet domestic and foreign obligations, although the administrator last year confirmed that talks were underway with Government for a possible debt takeover.

The national airline owes foreign and domestic creditors about US$380 million.

Air Zimbabwe was placed under reconstruction on October 5, 2018, under the Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act. —

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