AIR Zimbabwe has been struggling to service its routes with its remaining Boeing 767 after its other Boeing 767 has been grounded for the past 60 days in
This followed an engine problem due to excess oil leakage on its way to London last month. It leaves the national airline with the one aircraft to service long distance routes such as London, Dubai, China and Singapore.
Air Zimbabwe flies to London three times a week on Wednesday and Friday evenings, and has a day flight on Sunday.
The same plane also flies to Dubai on Tuesday, returning the following day.
Sources at the national carrier said the Boeing 767 was consuming about 9 quarts (18 pints) of oil per nautical mile instead of the stipulated six quarts (12 pints) by the manufacturers.
The increase is consumption, according to information at hand meant the plane had reduced oil being pumped into its engine bearings and other parts which could adversely affect its engines.
“High consumption of oil meant there was an engine problem which needed to be attended to urgently,” a source told the Zimbabwe Independent.
When the plane landed in London on June 15 Boeing experts in the UK requested that it be grounded as it was unfit to fly back to Harare.
A message was relayed to Harare for the other long-haulage Boeing 767 to come and fly passengers from London.
The plane was later flown to Frankfurt by Zimbabwean pilots to be attended to by Lufthansa Technic Company, who have a contract with Pratt & Whitney, the manufacturers of Boeing engines.
“The plane is expected to be back in the air on August 24,” a source said.
Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive officer, Captain Oscar Madombwe, confirmed that the plane was being attended to after developing an oil leak.
“Everything regarding the servicing of the plane is under control. Flights are continuing as normal and we expect the plane to be back in the air next month,” said Madombwe.
Meanwhile on Monday Air Zimbabwe entered a code-share arrangement with Air Malawi for the Harare-Lilongwe-Dubai route and expects passengers to increase twofold.
The partnership is part of the airline’s turnaround programme which is expected to enhance operations.
Since May last year, the airline carried 7 850 passengers on the route, with the load factor increasing to 68,72%.