Ministry in AirZim protectionism row

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THE government was facing accusations of protectionism this week for refusing to allow new airlines to enter the Harare-Johannesburg route.
Flywell Airline, operating as Zimbabwe Airlink led by former Senator Forbes Magadu, claims the government is trying to protect Air Zimbabwe which only recently resumed regional flights after financial troubles.
Magadu told reporters on Wednesday: “We have two Embraer  jets and capital to start business now and I have tried in vain to get approval on the routes.
“The ministry gave us Harare-Beira and Harare-Maputo which are not viable at all.”
Valentine Sinemani, the acting secretary for Transport, admitted no new permits were being issued for Harare-Johannesburg which is currently being serviced by Air Zimbabwe along with South African Airways and British Airways operated by Comair.
The operations of the South African airlines were protected by a bilateral agreement between the two countries, he said.
“The allocation of routes is dependant on the volume of passengers and since Air Zimbabwe is on a rebuilding exercise, it is not possible at this stage to open the Harare-Johannesburg route to competition,” Sinemani said.
“We are not shutting them out as there are many other routes they can operate on. They can go to Luanda, Lusaka, Addis Ababa, Nairobi and many other destinations on the continent.”
He accused new airlines were “not being creative”, and said up to 10 newly-registered operators were yet to take to the skies.
But Magadu, whose company is in partnership with SA Airlink, feels that the ministry is working against the open skies policy as the law provides that no single airline should be protected in the era of economic liberalisation.
“I’m asking the ministry to walk the talk according to the laws of the country and other covenants. As an indigenous operator and many others, we are being denied the opportunity to fly on some of the lucrative routes,” he said.
“It now seems that wherever Air Zimbabwe is flying, no one else should be going there and I do not think that is the way it should be.”Advertisement