HARARE - Air Zimbabwe has once again broken aviation records after the troubled airline flew an empty aircraft from Johannesburg to Harare upon the resumption of regional flights on Monday.
Insiders disclosed yesterday that Air Zimbabwe flew an empty Boeing 767-200 aircraft, one of its long-haul planes, which has a carrying capacity of 203 passengers on its evening return flight from South Africa after it had ferried five passengers to Johannesburg from Harare International Airport on its morning flight.
The airline cruised the Johannesburg-Harare route with nine flight crew aboard including two pilots only identified as Captain Jonasi and Murombedzi, the first flight officer, an engineer and six air hostesses.
The insiders said the embarrassing incident was a result of poor marketing by the troubled airline which on Monday resumed regional flights having suspended them in January after creditors threatened to seize the carrier’s aircraft over crippling debts.
Air Zimbabwe acting group chief executive officer Innocent Mavhunga could not be reached for comment yesterday as his mobile phone went unanswered.
This is not the first time that Air Zimbabwe has flown near-empty. In 2005, the national airline cruised between Dubai and Harare, with one passenger.
Last year, the airline ferried one passenger from Victoria Falls to Harare after landing in the resort town with 16 passengers on its Chinese-made MA60 aircraft from Harare.
Critics say years of mismanagement and interference by the government have nearly brought the airline to its knees.
Starved of cash for recapitalisation, Air Zimbabwe uses mostly old-fashioned technology and equipment while nearly all its planes are between 18 and 23 years old except for the Chinese-made Modern Ark (MA) 60. - Kumbirai Mafunda