Zimbabwe’s national carrier Air Zimbabwe was once a big force in African aviation now almost nonexistence. The question that everyone will ask where did things go wrong?
When Zimbabwe was under an economic crisis which resulted in forex challenges for the carrier to pay up its foreign bills the then management did not just sit and fold hands they started thinking outside the box. They decided to have negotiations with national carriers in Zambia and Malawi to help fill up seat on profitable long haul routes.
This negotiations where successful in filling up seats as the airline enjoyed a monopoly route from its base Harare international airport to Beijing international airport via Lusaka, Zambia and Lilongwe, Malawi. And also another route was from its Harare base to Dubai international airport via Lusaka & Lilongwe it was a success filling up the seats and getting the much needed forex from ticket sales in Lusaka & Lilongwe. The Harare-London route via Lilongwe wasn’t that successful cause Malawi’s then carrier Air Malawi was not offering passengers when they don’t have surplus passengers Air Zimbabwe was just used to pick extra passengers of that day.
In as much as they had success on foreign routes how come they monopoly on local routes did not save the airline from collapse? Behinds the weak local currency then (zimdollar) and aging fleet, mounting foreign debts by the company and change in management which resulted in inefficiency and brought the airline to its knees.
Moving forward into the future Zimbabwe needs a new carrier without a damaged reputation government make seek a strategic partner to bring in aeroplanes and contract management while the government pumps in capital and lease the air Zimbabwe buildings to the new airlines. All funds raised from the lease should be used to settle air Zimbabwe’s debts. Key among them is to renegotiate for a long term payment period with all creditors.
To be continued.