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AirZim seeks partnership with SAA

Godfrey Marawanyika

AIR Zimbabwe plans to approach South African Airways and other airlines to negotiate partnership deals that could result in major technical assistance to the national carrier.

Air Zimbabwe last year failed to seal a similar partnership deal with an Israeli-based aviation firm.

It was not possible to ascertain the other airlines which have been targeted by Air Zimbabwe. Aviation officials said the proposed deals would see the majority shareholder in the national carrier — the government — having its stake significantly diluted.

Air Zimbabwe is in the process of unbundling to exploit its strengths either by forming a strategic alliance or through skills transfer or sharing with SAA.

The overtures to SAA, which are still to be officially communicated, will also include possibilities of sharing facilities and codes.

Reached for comment, chief executive officer of Air Zimbabwe Tendai Mahachi played his cards close to the chest, confirming however that there were plans underway.

“We are still putting our house in order. There are various problems which still have to be addressed. Are you basing your information on the fact that the chief executive of South African Airlines was here and met with some people?” Mahachi asked.

He said he did not personally meet the SAA boss.

“There is nothing concrete as yet on that or anything. Maybe by June we would have finalised our plans. Once we have finalised everything we will invite you and everyone else.”

The chief executive officer of SAA is Khaya Ngqula.

Ngqula could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press.

According to the SAA profile, it was formed in February 1 1934 when the Union of South Africa bought both assets and liabilities of a private airline, Union Airways, which was later absorbed into a new airline called South African Airways.

In 1999, SAA, then a division of Transnet Ltd, entered a privatisation phase which led to the name of South African Airway (Pty) Ltd.

Currently, SAA performs maintenance for more than 40 airlines, including British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Air France and Lufthansa.

South African Airways has 62 aircraft while Air Zimbabwe has got two 767 and two 737 planes.

Another 737 is still undergoing maintenance and is expected to take to the skies again “soon”.

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