By Tawanda Musarurwa
Zimbabwe Airways is a completely different and autonomous entity from Air Zimbabwe and is therefore not part of the reconstruction process, Ministry of Transport of Infrastructure Development Acting Permanent Secretary Kudzanai Chinyanga has said.
“Currently there is no relationship between Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways. These are two separate State-owned enterprises.
“(The administrator) Mr Reggie Saruchera is responsible for reconstructing Air Zimbabwe and Air Zimbabwe Holdings. Zimbabwe Airways is not yet in his portfolio,” he said while giving evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development earlier this week.
The national airliner was placed under reconstruction due to continuous failure to generate profits to remain commercially viable.
The reconstruction order was pronounced in General Notice 758 of 2018 published in the Government Gazette this September.
“This was through a Cabinet decision in 2011. The decision came because operations had come to a complete halt at Air Zimbabwe,” said Chinyanga.
However, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza, is on record saying that Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways would be merged to form one entity, as both are state-owned enterprises and will play a critical role towards reviving the country’s ailing aviation sector.
“Government is working towards merging the two by dissolving Zimbabwe Airways and transfer all assets to Air Zimbabwe. Efforts are already underway to reconstruct and resuscitate Air Zimbabwe,” said Minister Matiza earlier this month.
Air Zimbabwe is currently saddled with a $371 million foreign and domestic debt.
The foreign debt has left the national airliner stripped of its international aviation privileges, which Saruchera said it needs to expediently recover if it is going to operate viably.
For instance, in 2012 Air Zimbabwe was removed from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
It currently owes IATA $4,2 million.
In recent times, Air Zimbabwe has been struggling to service its domestic and regional routes with passengers increasingly experiencing flight delays and cancellations attributed to operational constraints.
Air Zimbabwe administrator Saruchera – a managing partner at Grant Thornton and Camelsa – told the Parly Committee that the first of several key meetings in respect of the reconstruction process is set for next week (November 27).
Last week, the national airliner put out a call for bids for potential investors.