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Zim cash crisis hits Fastjet

WHILE President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government officials continue to chant with monotonous repetition the mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business”, the reality on the ground is different: companies keep facing existential threats due to the chronic liquidity crunch and cash crisis.

— Staff Writer.

Companies are still struggling and people losing jobs due to the economic tailspin.

South African-based and London Stock Exchange-listed African budget airline Fastjet’s shares collapsed on Wednesday after warning it could go bust unless it obtains new funding.
The airline, set up by easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, flies in several African countries, including South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Some of the airline’s problems are caused by Zimbabwe’s economic environment. Fastjet has just US$3,3 million in cash, of which US$1,75 million is held in Zimbabwe and is not readily accessible due to the liquidity crunch and cash crisis.

South African Airways (SAA) is also suffering due to Zimbabwe’s financial problems.

SAA dominates the lucrative Harare-Johannesburg route, flying five times a day.

It also flies to Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city, as well as Victoria Falls, which is a popular tourist destination.

While government claims the economy is recovering, facts say otherwise.

Zimbabwe is among the top five countries in the world struggling to repatriate airline ticket revenues, with the International Air Transport Association (Iata) saying blocked funds in the country total US$76m.

Zimbabwe owes the largest chunk of the unremitted funds to SAA. About US$60 million in SAA ticket sales remains in the country. Given SAA’s precarious position, the airline is now turning to high-level government officials to secure the payment.

The only countries whose debts exceed that of Zimbabwe are Venezuela (US$3,78 billion), Angola (US$386 million), Sudan (US$170 million) and Bangladesh (US$95 million), according to Iata.

Fastjet said this week it is talking to major shareholders about an equity fundraising.

However, if no new funds emerge, Fastjet said it may not be “able to continue trading as a going concern”.

“Whilst initial discussions with certain shareholders have been positive, discussions are ongoing and there can be no guarantee of a successful outcome,” the company said.
Shares fell 72% to 4,25p on Wednesday afternoon trading in London, valuing the company at less than £20 million (US$26 million). If the talks fail, Fastjet said it could be suspended from trading on the AIM market.

Sir Stelios has been Fastjet’s major shareholder, but now has a stake of less than 3% in the company. Two years ago he was entangled in a boardroom wrangle about the airline’s control and direction.

The airline said it has “continued to consume cash”, citing the recent purchase of equity in three ATR72 planes, “further operating cash outflows and a creditor reduction”.

Fastjet warned earlier this month that “it was entering into the quieter period of trading across the calendar year, and on forecast projections, headroom over available cash resources was minimal, particularly in the early part of the next 12 months”.

2 thoughts on “Zim cash crisis hits Fastjet”

  1. kid marongorongo says:

    the mantra is meant to business people its not as monotonous as you call it. thats marketing and advertising zimbabwe to investors thumps up ED. we are in safe hands when zimbabwe is being ruled by ED. For these stylish comic presidents like chamisa nothing positive will come up. Given the whole platform to campaign freely the the opposition use that platform to attack Zanu Pf and promising nothing to the electorate. MDC must tell Zimbabweans what it has achieved so far since 99, what projects have they done, proposed or on the potential, not just wanting to squeeze into office. we need to end poverty in zimbabwe, what are you doing as MDC towards that, to answer that they cry about Zanu Pf. ahh pathetic. Vote for ED

  2. Sagitarr says:

    You can vote for your ED and the ancient ZPF, it’s your choice. People who support opposition parties such as MDC do so voluntarily. They know what they DON’T want (which is represented by 38 years of social, industrial and economic torture by ZPF). You can shout as much as you like about such people who can not even be elected to run a burial society, stupidity is a choice. For most people who work for a living (not bootlicking or prisoners of ZPF blackmail who sing for 30 pieces of silver) life has deteriorated terribly. You either have no functional brain cells not to have noticed it or you’re one of the thieves who stole from the common man. Neither of which makes one a great individual.
    If things were working as expected in Zimbabwe there would be no reason to tell the world that Zimbabwe is open for business, it would be clear to all (as it was in 1980 before the experiment without control called ZPF took over)..
    Voting for ZPF is synonymous with voting for poverty – that is what ZPF wants – so that the list of desperate & thoughtless bootlickers grows. as they wait to be given a bucket of mealie meal or a T shirt;; pathetic and demeaning!!

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