AIR Zimbabwe will not overlook issues of safety when it buys new planes to boost the airline’s fleet, board chairman Mike Bimha (pictured left) told businessdigest this week.
Speaking on the sidelines of a press conf
erence announcing “a code-share arrangement” with Air Malawi yesterday, Bimha said the airline was talking to several manufacturers for the acquisition of new aircraft, but financial constraints meant that it had to look for a deal with a financial arrangement affordable to the company.
“We’re talking to many suppliers (but) we’ll not overlook issues of safety” when making new acquisitions, Bimha said.
Transport minister Chris Mushohwe reportedly signed a deal with Russia for the import of at least five Ilyushin and Tupolev aircraft from the former communist country.
Deliveries are expected to start in 2008 from the Voronezh Aircraft Construction Company (Vaco) plant once the final deal is signed in July.
Ilyushin Finance Co will finance the deal to the tune of US$500 million.
“Our short-term goal is to refurbish the current fleet under our turnaround strategy,” said Bimha.
Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, Bimha said the board’s turnaround programme hinged on “acquisition of appropriate aircraft, maintenance of safety, expansion of route network, (and) improved generation of foreign currency”, among other measures.
Last year, Air Zimbabwe acquired two MA60 turbo-prop aircraft from China whose operational costs are lower than those of Boeing 737s. — Staff Writer.