COMPETITION is heating up for national carrier Air Zimbabwe on its recently introduced Dubai route as Air Malawi has muscled in with direct flights to the Middle East from Harare.
The Malawian carrier on June 17 launched three flights a week to Dubai compared to the current two offered by Air Zimbabwe.
The Dubai route, which has proved lucrative for other airlines, has yet to generate revenue for the national airline. On its maiden flight, Air Zimbabwe managed to carry only 49 passengers, far below the required break-even load of 60 on its long haul plane.
It only managed to carry one passenger on its return flight from the Emirate city on its 260-seater Boeing 767.
In addition to Dubai, which was introduced as part of the airline’s “Look East” policy, Air Zimbabwe has been flying to Singapore and China.
The airline is yet to launch its service to Bangkok, Thailand, which had been scheduled for May 20. Airline staff say the company management had reviewed the route after the poor performance of the other flights to Asia.
Air Zimbabwe like all parastatals has been battling to operate viably with the company surviving on funds allocated for its operations through the national fiscus.
The company’s chief executive officer, Tendai Mahachi, recently denied the airline had benefited from funds under the Productive Sector Facility.
The airline had been reported as the largest beneficiary under the facility with $1,1 trillion dollars having been availed by the central bank as part of its turnaround strategy.
Fortunes for the national carrier further dipped when its Boeing 737 made an emergency landing in Johannesburg after encountering technical problems injuring six people on board.
Air Zimbabwe is currently in partnership with Air Malawi on the Lubumbashi route. But it will now be competing on a route where a number of African airlines are well established, observers say.