AIR Zimbabwe has bought two A340-500 Airbuses which will service the Harare–London and Harare–Beijing routes, the airline’s chairman Jonathan Kadzura said this week.
The first plane will be delivered by the end of November and the second will be expected either in December or early January next year.
The planes will fly to London three times a week and twice a week to China.
Air Zimbabwe’s management has been pressing government to replenish its ageing fleet to give it a competitive edge.
The airline currently flies two Boeing B767-200s, two B737-200s and one Chinese Modern Ark 60 turboprops.
Kadzura confirmed to businessdigest that the new planes would arrive in the country by December.
“It is our desire to ensure that the national airline is completely revived for the better. We are expecting the two aircrafts by December,” he said
Kadzura could however not disclose the cost of the planes. The Airbus A340-500 operates the world’s longest commercial air routes linking Singapore non-stop with New York.
The Airbuses are coming at a time Zimbabwe is trying to lure other national airlines to fly to Zimbabwe
A total of 18 international airlines have left the country due to negative publicity on Zimbabwe as a result of the political crisis.
These include Lufthansa, Qantas, Austrian Airlines, Swissair, Air India, Air France and TAP Air Portugal. African airlines that are no longer flying into Harare include Egyptair, Air Mauritius, Linhas Aereas de Mocambique, Air Namibia, Royal Swazi Airlines, Air Seychelles, Air Tanzania, Ghana Airways, Air Uganda and Air Cameroon.
Insiders said the delivery of the two aircraft will give Air Zimbabwe the opportunity to service West Africa and the Dubai route with the Boeing 767 as the national airline re-launched its expansion programme in line with the economic stability.
However, they said the introduction of the new aircraft alone without dealing with issues like debt, retrenchments and retiring of the old Boeing 737 will not bring a quick turnaround to the national airlines.
Aviation sources said the airline had been struggling because it embarked on cost-cutting measures which have seen Air Zimbabwe pulling out of several lucrative routes such as Harare-DRC, Harare-Dar-es-Salaam, Harare-Lilongwe and Harare-Nairobi.
They believe such cost-cutting measures should have been complemented by other strategies to salvage and maintain market share.
Analysts said the airline had lost out on potential investors or meaningful investment due to their failure to produce up to date audited financial accounts.
Air Zimbabwe and other parastatals in the country are facing serious challenges relating to public accountability as a result of poor business culture, which has been compounded by the economic challenges the country faced over the past decade.
Air Zimbabwe’s attempts to go regional in partnerships with Air Malawi, Air Mauritius, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya have not yielded anything.
It is also alleged that these partnerships have been aborted on claims that some of the airlines were not performing, although it has since been realised that more foreign currency earnings could have been earned from such partnerships.