AIR Zimbabwe will begin to service local and regional routes after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAAZ) cleared three of the troubled airline’s planes which had been grounded over safety concerns.
CAAZ grounded Air Zimbabwe’s three Boeing 737-200 planes in April insisting they had reached the end of their economic life forcing the debt-ridden airline to stop servicing domestic and regional routes.
But one of the planes is now ready for service with the other two expected to be cleared shortly, CAAZ chief, David Chawota, confirmed.
“The three 737-200 planes that had been grounded have been cleared. One is ready for service immediately and the other two are almost done,” Chiwota said.
“All the conditions required by CAAZ are being met, and the planes are fit for all the purposes.”
Grounding of the planes threw the airline’s operations into chaos with reports that some domestic passengers were being asked to use buses instead.
A plane leased from Zambezi Airlines to help plug the gap was withdrawn over a US$460,000 debt.
Air Zimbabwe chairman, Jonathan Kadzura, said the return of the planes would significantly boost the airline’s operations.
“Despite our precarious financial state, we managed to service the planes using our own funds. We are happy that we did not seek any Government support,” Kadzura said.
“For us, this is a big step and it will help in our recovery given all the challenges that we have faced recently,” he said.
Air Zimbabwe is battling a huge debt-pile and cannot find the money to replace is ageing fleet.
Transport minister, Nicholas Goche recently confirmed that the problems were making it difficult for government to find new investors for the beleaguered airline.
“The Air Zimbabwe balance sheet is very bad and not attractive to anyone. The revenue generated by the company does not match the overheads,” Goche told local media recently.
“The company has excess labour force and can’t break even.”
He also gave short shrift to reports the government had acquired new airbus planes for the airline.
“That talk exists in the media. I as the shareholder am not aware of anything along those lines.”