Govt officials to fly EgyptAir

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has pledged to lobby government officials to fly EgyptAir — among a basket of key airlines — as part of conditions for the carrier to defer its plan to pull out of Zimbabwe.

This comes after the authority sweet talked the Egyptian national carrier, which had announced plans to discontinue Harare flights.

Last month, EgyptAir said it was cancelling the flights on September 23 this year citing a harsh operating environment.

Karikoga Kaseke, the ZTA chief executive, last week travelled to Egypt where he met the airline’s management to iron out various issues.

Kaseke said EgyptAir’s withdrawal from Zimbabwe would dampen confidence in the country as a destination and “government would do its best to attract and retain as many international airlines as possible”.

“Tourists tend to lose confidence in us as a tourism destination when they see airlines withdrawing,” he told Business Live in an interview on Tuesday.

Apart from government departments considering EgyptAir, Zimbabwe has reportedly agreed to grant the airline further discounts — in addition to 50 percent offered — on landing and navigation charges.

EgyptAir’s pullout plan came hardly a month after Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) also indicated plans to halt its Harare flights.

“We think the fees are too high for an economical and profitable operation, we think they can come down,” said KLM’s vice president Pieter Bootsma said in July.

Industry experts say the EgyptAir lobby will dent Air Zimbabwe (AirZim)’s revival plans and chances through a loss of significant government business.

“Air Zim gets most of its revenue from government, but once that avenue is closed this might signal the demise of the national airline,” said an aviation industry source who preferred anonymity.

In recent years, Air Zim has been downsizing due to frequent strikes and huge debts incurred as the airline tries to maintain an ageing fleet.

Two years ago, the national airline was placed on judicial management after ceasing operations due to financial constraints.

A revival attempt failed as pilots refused to resume domestic services, with unpaid salaries and allowances amounting to more than $35 million.

The government announced that Air Zimbabwe would be grounded indefinitely in February 2012.

In March the same year, government established Air Zimbabwe Private Limited as the new owner of the carrier after disbanding its former parastatal owner, Air Zimbabwe Holdings.

It subsequently absorbed a $150 million debt.

AirZim resumed flying domestic routes on a continuous basis in early May 2012.

The Egyptian airline also urged Zimbabwe to facilitate the granting of the fifth freedom from Tanzanian authorities, among other demands.


Comments (2)

It is appreciated that authorities in Harare are making efforts for viability of Egypt Air flights to Harare. However, an even more important undertaking should be made by Egypt Air to completely revamp and improve customer care by their ground staff at Cairo International Airport and at transit hotels they use in Cairo for the 15-18 hour transit stay. The rudeness and bad manners of the staff, dirty hotel rooms at transit hotels and the tendency to make customers booked through Egypt Air appear like they have not paid or are not important - makes any one who goes through it even once to want to look for an alternative airline and route. Instead of issuing a transit visa on arrival, passports are seized and handled casually so transit passengers go to transit hotels with nothing - a terrible immigration risk in my view. Frequent flyers are not recognized at all - a basic etiquette for any serious airline.

Clever - 18 September 2014

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