Monday, June 4, 2012

► ZIMBABWE: Sol Air reveals planned routes as Government discord continues.

Following on from our initial report, Zimbabwean private start up Sol Air (ZS) has now revealed its plans for upcoming routes it intends to serve using a fleet of Bombardier CRJ-900s.

Sol Air Harare
A familiar sight at Harare - empty slots. (William Whaley)
No further news on how a resurrected Air Zimbabwe has been performing on domestic routes has been made available. 

Meanwhile, at a recent conference of the African Travel Association (ATA) held in Victoria Falls, Shingi Munyeza, chief executive officer of hotel and leisure group, African Sun Limited (ASL) told international delegates that there was nothing wrong with African governments regulating domestic air services in order to protect troubled national airlines.

"You need to let in (foreign) airlines but ensure you don't destroy the local airline," Munyeza told the ATA congress. "
African governments have been burnt before where they have opened the skies," said Munyeza.
Once again, this adds to the notion of total discord between official Zimbabwean Government policy and private industry with regards to the serious development of local aviation, as just recently, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Walter Mzembi stated:
"We are over-protecting Air Zimbabwe. We all know that government is a signatory to a declaration that promotes an open sky policy. What I wonder is why we have not been able to motivate any new airlines into our airspace?"

Politicking aside, the answer, however, is simple.

As long as Zimbabwe's government is willing to live with the prospect of subsidizing an inefficient millstone of the Air Zimbabwe sort whilst strangling any potential private carriers under the guise of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), then it will only have itself to blame when it finds its tourism and aviation infrastructure both undeveloped and underexploited, because after all, tourism thrives on reputation, and what good to a country is an airline reputed only for late arrivals and shoddy service?