Following our report this week on Air Zimbabwe's pending suspension from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for failing to comply with the Association's stringent Operational Safety Audits (IOSA), so IATA has issued a press statement to the effect that Air Zimbabwe has 90 days to comply with the IOSA criteria or risk losing its membership of the Association.
Mike Higgins, IATA regional vice-president for Africa, said IATA remains committed to developing aviation and aviation safety protocols on the African continent and that it is ready to assist Air Zimbabwe wherever possible in renewing its IOSA certification which will allow it to continue to benefit from financial and other services available to IATA members.
From an outside perspective, it seems like a fairly straight-forward affair - spruce up the MA60s and ageing Boeing 767s & 737s and invite IATA in. Yadayadayada, certificate issued, and problem solved.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that, especially not with quasi-bankrupt Zimbabwean parastatals who may, or may not be operating a fleet of rented Airbus A320s in the hopes of eluding creditors.
|A common sight at Harare Airport - nothing. (Bill Whaley)|
With an airline whose domestic market share in January 2011, despite having a monopoly on local routes and on the coveted Harare - London cash-cow, was 20,5% that then declined to 15,4% in February, hitting 12,2% in March and finally bottoming out at 0,6% in August, is there any point in even trying to breath life into this already dead brand?
According to the Zimbabwean Government, yes there is.
News reports out of Harare this week have the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ)'s David Chaota stating that new comers Sol Air (ZS) and Phoenix Airlines, both of whom have applied for operating licences for the domestic Zimbabwean market , have not received them because "there is need to meet the International Air Transport Association (IATA) conditions".
And straight, too, from the horse's mouth.
Air Zimbabwe lacks a current IATA IOSA Audit certificate, yet is allowed to operate; two local indigenous airline's capable of doing the job but are held back because of Government protectionism for an airline that practically does not exist, and that no one seems interesting in flying on, or investing in.