Tuesday, September 3, 2013

► ZIMBABWE: Air Zimbabwe eyes Zambia, Malawi, Durban flights; still gung-ho on London Gatwick in November.

Air ZimbabweAir Zimbabwe (UM) is planning to roll out more regional and international destinations with effect from October/November onwards as the airline attempts to reclaim its lost southern African market share. In addition, it has now noted that a resumption of services to China is also on the cards.

Air Zimbabwe's former route map
According to the Zimbabwean national carrier's spokeswoman, Shingai Taruvinga, 3x weekly flights from Harare to Lusaka and Lilongwe are planned, along with an October resumption of 2x weekly flights to the eastern South African port city of Durban, abandoned in the early 2000s. While its domestic operations now cover Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, Air Zimbabwe's sole international destination is Johannesburg, served from Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.

The addition of new regional routes is to be facilitated by the entry into service of the airline's second A320-200, (MCN 1973 | Z-WPN), currently in Johannesburg undergoing maintenance.

As noted previously, 3x weekly flights on the lucrative Harare - London Gatwick route are still slated for a November launch though none currently reflect on the GDS at this time.
We will increase our frequencies on the three routes as demand peaks,Taruvinga told The Financial Gazette.We have done a lot of research and it is promising. There is a lot of movement of passengers on those routes. As we said when we re-launched flights, we wanted to consolidate our domestic routes before expanding into the region,” she said.
Regarding its Far Eastern routes, the airline's acting chief executive, Innocent Mavhunga, said the modalities are still being resolved.
"Plans are already in motion for us to return to Europe, in fact by November we should be going to London. We are also finalising the China route but we will advise in due course in terms of logistics," said Mr Mavhunga.
Air Zimbabwe has not been servicing its international routes after flights were suspended following attempts to attach its aircraft due to unserviced debt. It is also to be recalled that UM has said its international 767 ops would only resume once both aircraft have been refurbished so as to allow the airline to offer a competitive onboard product.