Airzim seeks new partners

HARARE - National airline Air Zimbabwe (Airzim) is seeking new partners as part of its turnaround strategies.

Its acting-chief executive Edmund Makona told Parliament on Monday that the national flag carrier — with a debt overhang of $298 million — wants to engage its major shareholder, government, for funding and fresh capital.

“With our debt it would be difficult to achieve a turnaround overnight. At the moment we want to give government the right to first refusal in terms of funding before getting a strategic partner for the airline,” he said.

Makona noted that Airzim, which has been making losses since dollarisation in 2009, has been struggling to secure funding due to legacy issues.

Airzim made a loss of $45 million in 2010 before reducing the losses to $28 million in 2011 and $26 million in 2012. The losses, however, widened to $39,4 million in 2013.

“Although we receive no funding from the budget, we have continued to soldier on. So far we have initiated a process that arrests current loss making to break even and finally to sustainable profitability,” said Makona.

The acting chief executive said the national airline, with three operational aircrafts, was in talks with Canadian aeroplane maker Bombardier and Boeing to lease planes as one of the company’s strategies to increase its route network.

“We are planning on acquiring two new aircrafts which will help reduce our operation costs by 41 percent,” said Makona adding that in the long term, Airzim also plans to acquire a Dreamliner to service international routes.

This comes as aviation experts have been calling for the dissolution of Airzim and the establishment of a new national carrier specialising in budget aircrafts and public-private-partnerships (PPPs) that have the potential to improve the viability of air transport.

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