Zimbabwe’s flagship airline Air Zimbabwe is set to resume its London-Harare route. This comes after the arrival of a B777-200ER aircraft from Malaysia. The aircraft was delivered to Zimbabwe yesterday.
Air Zimbabwe has been ailing under the burden of infrastructural crumble and debt. The airline was forced to ditch its most lucrative route in 2011. This was after one of its aircraft a Boeing 767-200 was impounded at London Gatwick Airport for an alleged failure by the airline to keep up to date with payments for spare parts.
Air Zimbabwe spent the last half of the past decade looking for investors but failed to secure any mainly due to the hostile operating environment in Zimbabwe.
By 2017, the government was moving to rebrand and ditch the airline altogether. A new airline, Zimbabwe Airways was formed and was led by the president Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba Chikore. The company bought 4 Boeing 777-200ER aircraft from the Malaysian government and six Embraer-145 aircraft from the United States of America. None of the planes have been operational.
Air Zimbabwe has now taken delivery of the aircrafts that were intented for Zimbabwe Airways and it looks like they are slowly starting to pay back the arrears.
Air Zimbabwe operations manager, Tonderai Mukubvu, said the Boeing 777 aircraft, which has a 282-passenger capacity is not designed for short routes and is unlikely to do local routes as it is designed to fly for six hours minimum.
Mukubvu believes the 120-tonne cargo capacity will facilitate trade and commerce in the country.
Zimbabwe has seen low volumes of tourists from Europe and America of the past decade. In 2018 only 232 233 tourists arrived in Zimbabwe from Europe and 120 313 from United States.
The route has been serviced by other airlines with multiple layovers. Zimbabwe has become a residual destination with few tourists going direct to the country. The revival of the route will boost tourism and also bilateral trade. Zimbabwe is also preparing to boost its arrival with the current expansion of the Robert Mugabe International Airport