The Zimbabwean government is continuing with the hunt for a technical partner for ailing flag-carrier Air Zimbabwe after holding failed negotiations with all the nine companies which have expressed interest in the last three years, reports Oscar Nkala
In an interview with a Harare-based weekly paper, Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Jorum Gumbo said failed negotiations had been held with companies that include Ethiopian Airlines, Angolan Airlines, Boeing (US) and Emirates.
“We have nine companies that we have spoken with. Many investors want to come. Many people have approached us, but no one is bringing anything concrete,” Gumbo said.
Analysts believe the airline’s failure to attract partners stems from the bad state of the Zimbabwean economy and its own accumulated debt burden of $334 million.
According to independent estimates, Air Zimbabwe needs at least $1 billion to replenish its fleet with new aircraft as well as service its domestic and foreign debts.
The ballooning debt arose from an accumulation of unpaid navigation, landing and handling fees as well as fuel supplies, salary arrears and rental costs.
The airline’s precarious financial position has been worsened by the high operational and maintenance costs for its aged fleet of two Boeing 767s, one Boeing 737 and one Chinese made Xian Modern Ark (MA-60). The airline also operates a single Airbus A320 leased from Angolan company Sonangol.
Apart from the grounding of most of the fleet due to breakdowns, the tight liquidity crisis gripping the country has further complicated Air Zimbabwe’s efforts to get foreign currency for the procurement of spares parts and periodic C-Checks to determine the air-worthiness of its aircraft.