Air Zimbabwe new plane gets nod to fly

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Air Zimbabwe (Airzim)’s 50-seater Embraer ER145 is set to take to the skies within three months after the national airline received the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) certification.

In aviation circles, the KYC is a rigorous process that seeks to demonstrate an airline’s capability in maintaining and operating the aircraft.

It also covers traceability of the aircraft and the standing of the operator, as well as showing the competence of its cabin crew, among other requirements.

Airzim corporate services manager Mr Tafadzwa Mazonde yesterday said the United States supplier of the Brazilian-designed ER145, has cleared the airline to start flying the plane.

“We have been cleared by Embraer to operate and we will now proceed to update all documents and other operational preparedness issues.

“In terms of timelines, we will need between 45 to 90 days for all processes (to be completed). It’s now 95 percent definite to fly it within that timeline.”

Airzim took delivery of the Embraer ER145 on April 31 last year, but it has not operated since then due to the absence of the KYC.

Initially, the aircraft was expected to start operating within six weeks from date of delivery.

The aircraft needed the KYC and had to be repainted in Air Zimbabwe livery since it came with Zimbabwe Airways colours. The aircraft was bought in the United States in 2017.

This will bring renewed confidence to the national airline, which took delivery of the Boeing 777-200 Extended Range aircraft from Malaysia on January 29 this year, laying a firm foundation for its revival.

Mr Mazonde said the Embraer was part of the airline’s strategic plan, which was anchored on the procurement of right sized equipment.

“What we are saying is that we need equipment which is appropriate for the route network that we are operating.

“The current fleet that we have, the Boeing 767s, they are designed to fly for a minimum of at least six hours going upwards but we are flying them on distances of 30 minutes (and one-and-a- half hours).

“That on its own has costs to it and therefore becomes an inappropriate piece of equipment in relation to that route network,” he said in a recent interview.

The coming on stream of the Embraer would mean that, gradually, Airzim is getting properly sized aircraft within its fleet.

The move is expected to increase the troubled airline’s revenue and at the same time reduce operational costs, which will translate to profitability in the long term. – Herald