THE coming of internationally acclaimed aviation industry players into Zimbabwe’s airspace does not threaten Air Zimbabwe’s revival prospects, a Cabinet minister has said.
President Mnangagwa’s new dispensation is prioritising the revival of Air Zimbabwe as part of measures to increase destination accessibility for tourists, and of course, to breathe life into struggling State-owned enterprises so that they cease to look up to Treasury for survival.
Air Zimbabwe is set to take delivery of an Embraer ERJ 145 in the next two weeks, as well as two Boeing 777-200 ERs to replenish its depleted fleet.
But critics say Government efforts to revive the national flag carrier are doomed given that most of its routes are now dominated by top global airlines such as South African Airways, Kenyan Airways, RwandAir, Ethiopian Airlines, British Airways through Comair Limited, Emirates and fastjet, among others.
However, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Engineer Joel Biggie Matiza told The Herald Business in a wide ranging interview this week that Government will not lose sleep over other airlines’ flying into the country.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Yamoussoukro Declaration (1988), which aims to open up the world air space through a simple notification procedure prior to landing.
Harare wants many airlines to come so as to help boost its tourism drive through increasing tourist arrivals and earnings and spur economic growth.
Eng Matiza said Government was confident in the reconstruction work to revive Air Zimbabwe, which he believes is already on a pedestal to compete with established players.
“I do understand that (presence of many airlines in Zimbabwe) concern but we are working flat out to make sure that Air Zimbabwe comes back to life,” said Eng Matiza.
“We have equipment that obviously need to be either repaired or brought into the system; so that is what we are working on now. When I say equipment I mean planes because without equipment you can’t do the business.
“These competitors so to speak, they are there . . . all coming down to make sure they take the market in Southern Africa. But we are maintaining that we can actually resuscitate our Air Zimbabwe . . . because we have got the equipment (coming).”
As first reported by our sister publication, The Sunday Mail this week, Eng Matiza confirmed the imminent arrival of an Embraer ERJ 145 and two Boeing 777-200 ERs. Work is now at an advanced stage on the planes’ route permits, maintenance and parking fees payment.
“We have the B777s, two of them. We have paid for them fully and in fact, the Minister of Finance (Professor Mthuli Ncube) last week sent in the last bit of parking fees and maintenance fees so that we can now see these planes off Malaysia. We (also) have an Embraer coming in, it’s sorted out; everything we have made sure that mechanically, everything is okay. What’s left now is the permits to come here, it won’t take a week before they come,” said Eng Matiza.