HARARE (Xinhua) --
Zimbabwe’s struggling national carrier incurred a
loss of 44.77 million U.S. dollars in 2013 as high fuel costs
and a significantly reduced route network impacted on the
airline’s viability, acting board chair Eric Harid said Monday.
He told a parliamentary committee that the airline has
been making losses since 2004 due to operational challenges
that include a ballooning debt, now standing at 302 million
dollars, high fuel costs and an aged aircraft fleet.
"The reason why we are making losses is the short routes
we are plying at the moment, the high cost of jet fuel and
the aged fleet we are using," said Harid.
He said jet fuel in Zimbabwe costs 1.15 U.S. dollars per
litre compared to South Africa’s 0.89 U.S. cents.
Out of the airline’s 10 aircraft, only three were serviceable
while route network had shrunk to less than 10 from around 20 at
peak in the late 1990s.
Air Zimbabwe used to fly to such destinations as Kenya,
Zambia, Mauritius, Malawi, the DR Congo, London and Beijing but
foreign routes are currently confined to South Africa as
operational challenges hamper route network expansion.
Harid said the airline required a total of 368 million
U.S. dollars for recapitalization, with 331 million alone
required for acquisition of a modern fleet.
He said the airline was losing significant business due
to its suspension from the International Air Transport
Agency (IATA) in 2012 over a 2.1 million U.S. dollars debt.
"We don’t have capacity to get interconnecting
"We are losing passengers due to our absence on the IATA
system," he said.
The acting board chair bemoaned low cargo business which was
currently contributing only two percent to the airline’s
Although he did not give a figure, Harid said passenger
business was the biggest contributor to the airline’s revenue,
followed by charter business at 39 percent.
The airline’s acting chief executive Edmund Makona told
the same committee that the biggest challenge facing the
airline was its "safe but aged" aircraft fleet which
consumed more in terms of fuel and maintenance costs.
"Air Zimbabwe is operating at an uncompetitive edge
because of its aged fleet.
"The solution, therefore, is not necessarily funding but
modernization of the fleet because then we will manage the
issue of the biggest cost driver which is fuel," he said.
He also said the airline’s losses were being compounded by
fares that were below break-even point as the airline tries to
woo customers since resuming operations in 2013 after suspension
the previous year.
government says KLM pullout unfortunate
by Gretinah Machingura HARARE
(Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwean government
has described as unfortunate the pull out of KLM Royal Dutch
Airline from Harare but indicated that it did not regard the
exit as a loss since more airlines were set to fly into the
country in the next few months.
In an interview with Xinhua, Transport Minister Obert Mpofu
said Zimbabwe had signed more than 10 air service agreements
with airlines in Africa, Europe and Asia that he hoped will
boost the number of airlines flying into the country from the
KLM recently announced that it will cease flights to Harare
in October this year, almost two years after resuming the
flights after a decade long hiatus citing viability challenges.
The minister said a code share arrangement the airline
had with Kenya Airways and the reduced number of Zimbabweans
going into Europe could also have contributed to the
non-viability of the route.
KLM said it would service the Amsterdam-Lusaka-Harare
route using Kenya Airways.
"We are aware that they code share with Kenya Airways so
they are going to be using Kenya Airways for this route.
"They were competing among themselves yet they are
actually in partnership.
"They have cited viability challenges which could be all
for reasons best known to them," the minister said.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has also described the
withdrawal of KLM as regrettable, saying it will greatly impact
the tourism sector.
Minister Mpofu said not many people were travelling to
Europe from Zimbabwe due to the sanctions, a factor he said
could have contributed to the pullout.
"Our marketing people are saying that not many people are
going to Europe due to stringent visa requirements hence the
non viability of this airline on this route.
"But whey they are ready, we welcome them back," he said.
The minister said his ministry was discussing with the
Chinese to ensure Air Zimbabwe resumes flights to Beijing
and Shanghai soon.
"We are seriously negotiating with one serious big
airline operator on the possibility of introducing flights
to London and China," he said.
Air Zimbabwe suspended its Beijing flights at the height of
economic challenges in 2008 while its London flights were
suspended in 2012 due to a huge debt to service providers that
had the previous year resulted in one of its aircraft being
impounded by a creditor at Gatwick Airport.
At its peak in the 1990s, Air Zimbabwe flew to about 25
regional and international destinations while 45 airlines landed
at the Harare International Airport.
Saddled with a 188 million U.S. dollars debt, the airline
entirely stopped operations in 2012 but resumed them last year
after getting a bail out from government.
It is currently servicing domestic and regional routes to
neighboring South Africa.
The airline is however, yet to fully recover and expand its
regional and international route network.
On Tuesday, the country welcomed an inaugural direct flight
between Dar es Salaam and Harare by Tanzania’s low cost airline,
The airline will offer some of the cheapest fares in Africa’s
aviation industry as fares start from as little as 50 U.S.
dollars (excluding airport and government taxes) for a one-way
trip between the two cities.
The Harare route becomes Fastjet’s third international route
in Africa where it is already serving the Johannesburg and
Lusaka routes from its international base in the Tanzanian
Ed Winter, the chief executive and chairman of Fastjet
said the route was long overdue for the completely unserved
route, and expressed optimism about the success of the
He said due to overwhelming demand, the airline has had
to increase its initial flights from the planned two to
three times per week.
The airline will now fly on Tuesdays, Thursdays and
"These flights will I am sure stimulate both business and
"Clearly, as demand grows, we will satisfy that demand by
adding more flights and I see no reason why this route could not
reach a daily frequency quickly," he said.
Tanzania Fastjet to launch
budget flights to Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS, Zimbabwe (Xinhua) --
Tanzania’s low- cost airline Fastjet
announced Monday plans to launch flights between Tanzanian
capital of Dar es Salaam and Zimbabwean capital of Harare in
August this year, costing merely 50 U.S. dollars all inclusive
The airline’s chief commercial officer Richard Bodin told
Xinhua at the ongoing ninth Routes Africa meeting that there was
great potential for the success of the route because of strong
commercial ties between the two countries.
"We commence operations on the first of August and will
fly twice a week to Dar es Salaam," Bodin said, adding that
"we expect the route to grow very rapidly."
Bodin said a one-way trip from Harare to Dar es Salaam
will cost 50 U.S. dollars plus taxes, a charge he said was
designed at stimulating and growing the new market.
Fastjet will join several airlines that have introduced
flights to Zimbabwe over the last two years including Emirates,
KLM Royal Dutch Airline, Air Namibia, EgyptAir and LAM of
Zimbabwe eyes two more
HARARE (Xinhua) --
Zimbabwe is hoping to attract
two more airlines by the end of this year as it pushes with
efforts to rejuvenate the tourism industry, an aviation official
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) general manager
David Chawota told Xinhua that negotiations were underway for
RwandAir and Fastjet airlines from Rwanda and Tanzania
respectively to fly into the southern African country by
"That is what is in our plans and judging by the level of
negotiations we have done so far," Chawota said.
The coming of the two airlines will bring to 16 the
number of foreign airlines flying into the country, but
still much lower than the 34 airlines that once served the
country at peak in 1997.
Chawota this week told local media that their target was
to bring 40 foreign airlines into Zimbabwe by the end of
Zimbabwe has been on a drive in recent years to lure back old
and new airlines into country after a decade of economic
meltdown that ended in 2008 which saw many airlines shunning the
route due to depressed business.
Since 2009, the country has welcomed back airlines such as
Air Namibia, EgyptAir, LAM Mozambique Airlines and KLM Royal
Dutch Airline of Netherlands.
Air Malawi and Emirates have also started flying into
The drive to lure the airlines also comes at a time when
the government has signed bilateral air service agreements
with about seven countries that include Qatar ad Turkey to
facilitate introduction of flights into Zimbabwe by these
Tourism officials contend that the coming of many airlines
into the country would boost the tourism sector which is trying
to get back to its peak performance in 1999 when 2.2 million
visitors came to the country against 1.8 million that came in
2013 generating 850 million U.S dollars.
Malawian airline resumes
Zimbabwe flights after nine-year break
HARARE (Xinhua) --
The Malawian carrier has resumed flights into
Zimbabwe after a nine year break in a development that is set to
increase connectivity in southern Africa, an official has
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) chief executive
David Chawota confirmed to Xinhua on Friday that Malawi Airlines
resumed flights this week.
"It is a welcome development, and members of the public
have really been looking forward to its return," Chawota
There has been no direct air link between Malawi and Zimbabwe
and passengers usually commute from South Africa.
Malawi Airlines, a joint-venture between the Malawian
government and the Ethiopian Airlines, is the latest to
resume flights into Zimbabwe following similar moves by Air
Namibia and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines over the past few
Seven other countries also recently signed bilateral air
service agreements with Zimbabwe for them to either resume
or introduce flights into the southern African country whose
airline is teetering on the brink of collapse due to serious
financial and operational problems.
Without divulging more information, Chawota said the aviation
body is working with a number of airlines which have expressed
keen interest in flying into Zimbabwe.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport Munesu
Munodawafa told Xinhua recently that Britain, Luxembourg,
Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Congo, India and Malawi are
among countries that signed bilateral air services agreements
with Zimbabwe in December 2013.
The eight countries also signed a separate pact with Zimbabwe
that allows them to start flights into Zimbabwe prior to
conclusion of their applications by the Zimbabwean government.
The Malawian carrier would fly from Malawi’s capital Lilongwe
via second largest city Blantyre to Harare three times a week.
The resumption of the Malawian carrier came as Zimbabwe’s
state- owned carrier faces financial and mechanical
Local media reported this week that two of Air Zimbabwe’s
leased A320 aircraft have been grounded in South Africa for
The airline’s spokesperson Shingai Taruvinga however
refuted the claim, saying that the two aircraft had gone for
their scheduled service.
"We do not have the expertise to service the Airbuses
here and that is why we send them to South Africa. One of
the aircraft should be coming out and go back in service
soon," Taruvinga said.
The troubled Air Zimbabwe is operating with about five
aircraft, some of them leased, to service domestic and regional
routes. Deeply indebted, it has been failing for over a year now
to re- introduce flights to Beijing and London that is regarded
as one of the airline’s cash cow route.