TRANSPORT minister Jorum Gumbo said Zimbabwe has plans to develop into a regional hub as the national airline Air Zimbabwe seeks to grow its spreads in the continent.
Working capital constraints and the proliferation of low-cost airline flying the lucrative Harare-Johannesburg route has seen Air Zimbabwe losing its market share.
Joram Gumbo told journalists ahead of a regional meeting for African airlines that government was looking at possible engagement with some partners before year end to revive the fortunes of the airline.
He said a slowdown in economic activity across the globe was not only affecting Zimbabwe’s the struggling career but bigger airlines as well. He added that AirZim’s turnaround, which is currently blighted by debt and an old fleet was inevitable without elaborating more.
“As we come up with new airports , what we are looking at is to bring visitors to Harare and the region. We want to be the regional hub. We are looking for a bigger aero plane ,one or two, resuscitate our London routes and bringing new technical people to assist us,” he said.
“Our passengers will continue to enjoy Zimbabwe’s hospitable skies whilst the economy opens its belly to more investors. Our national airline has to prove yet again that they can lead Africa into an aviation giant,” he added.
Zimbabwe is expected to host African Airlines Association (Afraa) annual general assenbly in November.
Headquartered in Kenya Afraa is a trade association of airlines from the member states of African Union founded in Ghana in 1968.
The association members represent over 85% of total international traffic carried by African airlines.
Afraa secretary general Elijah Chingosho said several African airlines were making perennial losses annually with only a few operating profitably.
At least 400 delegates are expected and will review developments of African aviation and how the sector can contribute to economic growth.
Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) acting CE Edmund Makona said the airline has plans to increase its presence in most African countries ahead of the meeting.
“We cannot do that unless if we spread our wings to specific destinations. Remember we are getting delegates from Europe that will be coming, some from Asia and some from beyond. By the time AGA occurs we would have spread our wings and offer more routes than we are currently offering .There are certain initiatives that are underway. We don’t want to under promise and over perform,” he said.- Fidelity Mhlanga