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US$300m debt peanuts, says Air Zimbabwe boss

Air Zimbabwe chief executive officer Rington Muzenda has claimed the $300 million airline legacy debt is not a big problem as other airlines are making losses around that figure in only one year.


Muzenda said this on Friday while making a presentation on the 2017 national budget at a consultative workshop organised by the Dextor Nduna-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport.

“There is the $300 million debt and it is not a lot of money if we consider the potential of Air Zimbabwe because a lot of airlines are making a loss around that figure in one year and yet at Air Zimbabwe it is only a legacy debt,” he said.

“We need to look at strategies to resuscitate aircraft and routes, to see what passengers we need to serve, the routes and frequencies, as well as availability of fuel and to see what it is that will make people choose to fly with Air Zimbabwe.”

Muzenda said the national airline was considering buying a plane from the region and to refurbish the Boeing 767 which was still in good condition.

“We are looking at $5 million for the two aircraft and we need credit facilities to enable the airline to grow,” he said.

Muzenda said they were working on new strategies to fix Air Zimbabwe before scouting for an investment partner.

“We need $465 000 for rehabilitation of buildings, hanger fire equipment ($1,8 million) and airline retooling and spares ($6,4 million), as well as $488 million to pay laid-off staff,” he said.

Transport ministry secretary Munesu Munodawafa said in 2016 no cent was allocated to Air Zimbabwe despite its problems and yet other international airlines were supported through the fiscus.

“South African Airways was this year allocated $5 million because the aviation industry is not making any money,” he said.

“Airlines are getting 2% profit and those making profit are making them in areas where people do not fly for different reasons and they charge a lot of money.”

Nduna said Air Zimbabwe must get back to its feet as government cannot continue to support it.

Zimbabwe National Roads Administration board chairman Albert Mugabe said the largest amount it had collected so far in terms of fees was $200 million.

He said some people were bypassing tollgates, denying the state revenue.

“We have encouraged the relevant authorities where those tollgates are being bypassed to be alert,” Mugabe said.

He said they also had challenges in doing oversight of national fuel inflows in order to know the amount they deserved to get from the fuel levy.

“We do not know how much fuel comes into the country and it becomes difficult to judge how much is due to us,” he said.

“City council charges people for parking in the streets and parking revenue must be ascribed to road maintenance and rehabilitation, but that parking revenue is not being channelled to road rehabilitation.”

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa is expected to present the 2017 budget next month.

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