Nascent carrier, Rainbow Airlines, is set to join Zimbabwe's growing list of privately backed carriers seeking to exploit the country's under-served and overpriced domestic and regional markets, a Government Gazette published last Friday reports.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Friday, June 22, 2012
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.
Monday, June 4, 2012
Following on from our initial report, Zimbabwean private start up Sol Air (ZS) has now revealed its plans for upcoming routes it intends to serve using a fleet of Bombardier CRJ-900s.
Amongst the cities to be served from its base at Harare International Airport are: Bulawayo, Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, Tete (Mozambique), Lusaka and Victoria Falls. It also plans to serve Johannesburg - Victoria Falls and Johannesburg - Bulawayo, two routes that are at present serviced exclusively by South African carriers.
|A familiar sight at Harare - empty slots. (William Whaley)|
No further news on how a resurrected Air Zimbabwe has been performing on domestic routes has been made available.
Meanwhile, at a recent conference of the African Travel Association (ATA) held in Victoria Falls, Shingi Munyeza, chief executive officer of hotel and leisure group, African Sun Limited (ASL) told international delegates that there was nothing wrong with African governments regulating domestic air services in order to protect troubled national airlines.
"You need to let in (foreign) airlines but ensure you don't destroy the local airline," Munyeza told the ATA congress. "
African governments have been burnt before where they have opened the skies," said Munyeza.
Once again, this adds to the notion of total discord between official Zimbabwean Government policy and private industry with regards to the serious development of local aviation, as just recently, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Walter Mzembi stated:
"We are over-protecting Air Zimbabwe. We all know that government is a signatory to a declaration that promotes an open sky policy. What I wonder is why we have not been able to motivate any new airlines into our airspace?"
Politicking aside, the answer, however, is simple.
As long as Zimbabwe's government is willing to live with the prospect of subsidizing an inefficient millstone of the Air Zimbabwe sort whilst strangling any potential private carriers under the guise of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), then it will only have itself to blame when it finds its tourism and aviation infrastructure both undeveloped and underexploited, because after all, tourism thrives on reputation, and what good to a country is an airline reputed only for late arrivals and shoddy service?
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
It never rains but it pours for ailing Zimbabwean national carrier, Air Zimbabwe (UM). One week, there are reports of its imminent demise and cessation of operations, the next, it pulls a Lazarus and is magically resurrected.
Once again the soap opera that is UM takes another twist with an announcement in the state media to the effect that Air Zimbabwe will restart flights, albeit only be 3x weekly domestically between Harare and Bulawayo, with no mention of equipment in use.
"Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke told the media that the flights would be on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“From the 2nd of next month (May) Air Zim will be resuming flights between Harare and Bulawayo,” he said.
“If it happens with consistence(sic) it is better than nothing although it is not enough. We need two flights daily.” Kaseke said the tourism sector was the worst affected by the demise of Air Zim."
This news comes in the wake of an announcement today by local start-up "Sol Air" that it is planning to commence operations in the near future using a leased Bombadier CRJ 900 aircraft.
With the slow demise of Air Zimbabwe, a vast gap has been left in the Zimbabwean domestic market. Aside from South Africa's Solenta Aviation, and a few charter companies flying between Harare and the main tourist/safari areas (Bumi Hills, Hwange Park, Kariba and Victoria Falls) there has not been a regular large-scale service between Zimbabwe's two main cities - Harare and Bulawayo - for quite some time.
However, it was announced recently by Managing Director, Nkosilathi Sibanda, that local start up "Sol Air" has obtained an IATA code (ZS) in addition to an operating licence from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), awarded in February of this year.
According to it's licence mandate, Sol Air has been designated the Bulawayo-Francistown-Gaborone, Harare-Bulawayo, Bulawayo-Victoria Falls and the Harare-Masvingo-Buffalo Range routes, which Sibanda said, would likely be serviced with a leased Bombardier CRJ 900.
Claiming international financial backing to the tune of USD$3.5 million, Mr Sibanda was also quoted as saying the airline was "in talks with two companies in Dubai and South Africa to lease us three 70-seater aircrafts and the talks will be concluded with a month" (sic).
The question many people want to know is the answer to though, is will this airline survive where so many others have failed? In a market renowned for much talk and little substance, the Zimbabwean domestic airline scene is littered with the corpses of failed airlines like Zimbabwean Express Airlines, flyKumba, Vic-Falls Airways, Expedition Airways, Zambezi Airways and Mid Airlines, all of whom were unable to break the Air Zimbabwe monopoly.