Monday, December 3, 2012

► ZIMBABWE: Air Zimbabwe to launch further regional ops shortly as Minister dismisses any KLM partnership as a "dream".

Air ZimbabweTroubled Zimbabwean national carrier Air Zimbabwe (UM) has announced further route developments and equipment changes as it looks to resume international operations in the new year.

Air Zimbabwe's 2006 Network
Air Zimbabwe's 2006 Route Map
The carrier has announced the resumption of Bulawayo - Johannesburg (ORTIA) in the weeks to come, having recently resumed Harare - Johannesburg flights. Initial uptake on the route was not as positive as expected, so much so that the airline was forced to drastically reduce its fares to around USD320 return (compared to USD420 return on SAA and BA Comair) in order to sweeten the deal. 

Further as-yet-unnamed regional routes are planned in due course with international operations likely to resume in April 2013. The carrier's two Airbus A320 will also be phased in "in mid December/early January". In a press conference, Air Zimbabwe's PRO, Shingai Taruvinga, said:
We are looking forward to more regional routes in three weeks,” Taruvinga said. “At the moment I can’t say it will be Lusaka, or any other destination but we are finalising a few things. Once that is done we should start. We are looking forward to international routes by early next year, around April 2013. The numbers are picking up on the Johannesburg route. We are optimistic that the numbers will keep increasing because we are now more reliable,” Taruvinga added.
Source [Financial Gazette]

Traditionally, Air Zimbabwe’s regional routes have included Harare - Lusaka, Harare - Lubumbashi (DRC), Harare - Nairobi, and Harare - Dar Es Salaam via Lilongwe. Internationally, the carrier plied Harare - London Gatwick, and Harare - Beijing via Singapore using its 767 fleet. It is understood that an Air Zimbabwe team is in Maputo, Mozambique finalizing a possible code-sharing deal with LAM Mozambique (TM).

Meanwhile, rumours of a possible KLM Royal Dutch Airlines partnership have been dismissed by Minister for Transport, Nicholas Goche, as nothing but "dreams", and denied any such proposal ever having been presented to him.
Nicholas Goche
Nicholas Goche (NewZimbabwe)
There is nothing like that,” said Goche. “I just heard rumours about the deal, but the truth is there is no such deal. The ministry has not approved such partnership. The proposal has not been made to the ministry, so there is no partnership to talk about.

He said the KLM Airways could not partner with Air Zimbabwe as the KLM Airways was already in partnership with another national airliner in Central Africa.

I do not know how the airliner would want to partner with Air Zimbabwe when it is already in partnership. KLM Airways is in partnership with Kenyan Airways, so it is impossible for them to partner our national airline,” said Goche.

The proposal gained much publicity following KLM's resumption of service to Harare in October in which it offered to "help" the struggling carrier.

A biting cash flow crisis and reluctance by Air Zimbabwe’s sole shareholder, the Zimbabwean government, to recapitalise the airline triggered the collapse of the parastatal. However, in the past nine months, considerable efforts have been made towards reviving the national flag-carrier, with two Airbus A320s having been acquired, though no word has yet been received as to whether the carrier has passed its  IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), due for renewal before 30 November.