Air Zim To Lease ‘New’ Plane As Pilot Shortage Hits Airline

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By Anna Chibamu

NATIONAL air carrier, Air Zimbabwe, has been forced to lease its B777-1 aircraft delivered early this year from Malaysia, because the airline does not have pilots and other qualified staff to operate and maintain the plane.

However, the current staff complement at Air Zimbabwe is 258, but no flight is operating in any of its routes.

Giving oral evidence before the Public Accounts Parliamentary Committee chaired by Tendai Biti on Friday, Air Zimbabwe’s acting Chief Executive Joseph Makonese said the airline had no technical capacity to operate the aircraft as most of its qualified staff had left the parastatal for greener pastures.

“For the B777, we took delivery of one B777, which is in the country from Malaysia. It is at our hangers,” said Makonese.

“Our plan is to lease the aircraft because we do not have finances and human capital to operate the aircraft at the moment.”

Another plane owned by Air Zimbabwe, an Embraer ERJ 145, the CEO told the committee, was grounded for routine maintenance checks for the next two weeks.

“We expect to commence operations with it on the 1st of April, 2020. However, we are still having delays due to foreign exchange control issues,” he said.

However, the MPs raised concerns over delays in having the national airline stand on its own and avoid relying on other airlines such as the South African Airways for services and support.