Tuesday, March 5, 2013

► UNITED KINGDOM: Air Zimbabwe pushes back planned launch of London flights to July.

Air ZimbabweAir Zimbabwe (UM) has delayed its planned launch date for international operations to London Gatwick to 1 July as its pushes to consolidate its domestic and regional operations first. Previously, the carrier had mentioned March as a possible date.

Air Zimbabwe Airbus A320 in Johannesburg, South Africa
An Air Zimbabwe A320 (MalcolmR)
While giving oral evidence to a Zimbabwean Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on State Enterprises and Parastatals, UM's newly appointed chairman, Ozias Bvute, said flights to London would resume once potentially viable routes have been chosen.
We have looked at route viability and we have identified the short-term routes that we think we want to concentrate on and ensure that those routes are managed and serviced properly for the benefit of our travelling partners,” Bvute said.

We would like to systematically work on introducing routes as we perfect our service on the ones we have so far, increase Harare-Bulawayo–Victoria Falls and Harare-Johannesburg and on July 1, we would like to return to the Harare-London route and to be reinstated twice a week."
Source [NewsDay]

Bvute also mentioned that a team of Chinese engineers were in Zimbabwe to repair one of the MA60 planes to be used to ply domestic routes as the Boeing 737-200Advs had become uneconomical.

Air Zimbabwe (UM) is currently straddled with a huge debt overhang of USD188million owed to staff and various creditors, namely: Algerian air navigation service provider, L'Etablissement National de la Navigation Aérienne (ENNA), Pan African air navigation provider L'Agence pour la Sécurité de la Navigation aérienne en Afrique et à Madagascar (ASECNA), China's National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), Aero Industrial Sales and American General Supplies.

As part of its attempts at protecting the beleaguered airline, the Zimbabwean Government now intends to make new amendments to the Zimbabwean Finance Act in which Air Zimbabwe's creditors will not be able to lay claim to the airline’s assets until 2015 at the earliest.