Zimbabwe takes delivery of new plane

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza (third from left) speaks to pilots at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport yesterday, soon after the landing of the Boeing 767 aircraft, a new addition to the Air Zimbabwe fleet.

A long-haul aircraft bought by Government from Malaysia to augment Air Zimbabwe’s fleet — the Boeing 767 — was delivered yesterday.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza received the 265-seater plane at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

This completes the delivery of both aircraft after the first one — the Boeing 777 — arrived in the country in January.

Minister Matiza said the acquisition of the long-haul plane indicated Government’s commitment to revive the country’s national airline.

“Now that the (Boeing) 767 is here as well, they all suit our strategy,” he said.

“For domestic market, we have an Embraer (ERJ50), which is fully functional; we have the 737, which also does domestic and regional.

“As we speak, the (Boeing) 737 is in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) operating on the regional route. So this is great for Air Zimbabwe . . .”

Mr Tonderayi Mukubvu of Grant Thornton, which is administering the transactions, said the acquisition of the planes was a progressive move.

“You would recall that the Government had committed to supporting the restructuring of Air Zimbabwe by giving them appropriate equipment, and these two pieces of equipment are now in the country,” he said.

“We are now putting efforts and plans together to try and ensure how we can optimally utilise these aircraft.

“We received an Embraer ERJ 50-seater aircraft in April 2019; this aircraft has since gone to South Africa for maintenance and major checks and we are getting it back end of October.”

Mr Mukubvu said Air Zimbabwe will soon be able to deploy the latest plane on domestic and regional routes.

“So we are anticipating, with these new additions, that operationally, Air Zimbabwe should start breaking even or making marginal profits,” he said.

“What is critical going forward, still under reconstruction, is for Government to now avail funds for us to be able to settle our creditors, both local and foreign, and those discussions are currently at an advanced stage.”