LONZIM Plc is planning to set up a passenger airline to service Zimbabwe and regional routes in a move that could give Air Zimbabwe serious competition.
The national airline has been experiencing operational and financial problems.
LonZim director and chief executive officer Geoffrey White said funding for the project, which will cater for both passenger and freight operations, had been allocated.
â€œLonZim has allocated funding to establish a franchise in Zimbabwe of Lonrhoâ€™s regional aviation company, Fly540, and is working to obtain the necessary flying permissions and Air Operators Certificate to start a domestic and regional focused airline for both passenger and freight operations,â€ said White when announcing the interim financial results for the period ending February 28.
However, he would not disclose the amount the project would cost and the regional routes that they intend to fly.
The inclusive government has indicated its desire to liberalise air transport policies in a bid to attract foreign airlines under the Open Skies Policy enunciated in the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme.
Only seven airlines are currently serving the country out of 45 that existed in 1996.
Reputable airlines like British Airways, Qantas, Virgin and Lufthansa have since stopped flying directly into Zimbabwe.
Airlines that have left the country include Austrian airlines, Swissair, Air India, Air France, Air Portugal, Egyptian Airline, Royal Swazi airline, Air Seychelles, Air Tanzania, Ghana Airways, Air Uganda and Air Cameroon.
â€œRecently we have seen some very positive progress made in Zimbabwe as international support for the country grows. We are positive that the investment potential in Zimbabwe remains strong and that the country has a very bright future as it looks to re-establish its presence as one of the major economies on the African continent,â€ he noted.
Meanwhile, White said LonZim will continue to focus on commercial opportunities in Zimbabwe and the Beira corridor.
He said the company will continue to invest in industries that the board believes will show strong and speedy recovery when Zimbabwe begins economic growth.
White said the focus for each company has been to retain quality staff and the capabilities necessary to grow and gain market share as and when Zimbabwe recovers.
â€œEach company is well positioned to do so, and with LonZim backing, the portfolio of investments is strategically placed to be able to benefit from the recovery,â€ White said.
BY NQOBILE BHEBHE