Tuesday, July 2, 2013

► ZIMBABWE: Air Zimbabwe mulling either the A330/777 for future long haul ops.

Air ZimbabweAir Zimbabwe (UM) is reportedly mulling leasing either the Airbus A330 or the Boeing 777 as a long haul replacement for its ageing pair of 767s, one of which, (MSN 24867 | Z-WPF), is reportedly undergoing a C-Check set to last 10-months. The other, (MSN 24713 | Z-WPE), is still serviceable though with the advent of the A320 on the airline's Harare - Johannesburg route, it has been parked and is now kept on standby for VVIP (i.e Presidential flights), charters and as a back up. Once refurbished, the aircraft should be deployed on London flights in November.

Air Zimbabwe 707 in better days at Harare
Air Zimbabwe 707 in better days
According to industry analysts familiar with the airline's operations who spoke to The African Aviation Tribune, while Air Zimbabwe has semi-retired two out of its fleet of three Boeing 737-200Advs, one still remains serviceable, also, as a back-up jet (Reference this post: ► SOUTH AFRICA: Air Zimbabwe's A320 grounded in Johannesburg following birdstrike.). However, while the 737s have yet to surpass their designed flying hours, UM prefers not to use them owing to their fuel inefficiency and noise emissions.

Of Air Zimbabwe's three MA60s, only one (MCN 0303 | Z-WPK) remains serviceable having recently undergone an undercarriage check with manufacturer, Xi'an. The other two aircraft (Z-WPJ & Z-WPL) have been written off owing to two incidents; one involving the infamous warthog collision at Harare International, the other, an unexpected undercarriage retraction while on the apron which caused substantial structural damage to the aircraft.

Regarding the carrier's Embraer project, Air Zimbabwe has now also sent six of its pilots to France for training on Embraer jets as reports emerge that the Zimbabwean national carrier is to acquire its current ERJ145 (MSN 145607 | ZS-BBH) from Solenta Aviation South Africa. The lease with Solenta is said to be a trial run for the Embraer to see how it sits with Air Zimbabwe. Two more ERJ145s are said to be in the pipeline.

Lastly, we have been reliably informed that Air Zimbabwe's much debated A380 deal, will not, in fact, come to be. It was reported that Air Zimbabwe spokeswoman, Shingai Taruvinga, had confirmed a talks for an "A380" were underway, though it has since emerged that Ms Taruvinga does not likely know what an A380 actually is.