The Sunday News
Rutendo Nyeve, Business Reporter
THE country’s national airline, Air Zimbabwe, is optimistic of being re-admitted into the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as Government has cleared 90 percent of its debt to the international body.
IATA is a global aviation body that works with airlines to foster safe, reliable, secure, and economical travel. Air Zimbabwe owed IATA US$140 million and 90 percent of the figure has been paid up. The clearing of the debt is part of the numerous efforts put by the Government towards reviving the airline which had seen its operations going down.
In an interview with Sunday News, Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive officer Mr Tafadzwa Zaza highlighted some of the strategies implemented by the Government that have enhanced the revitalisation of the airline.
“In 2018 the Government of Zimbabwe put Air Zimbabwe under administration as they wanted to revive the airline. The administration went through up until 2021 when the term came to an end.
The administration put a strategic turnaround plan which was approved by the Cabinet. In that strategic plan, one of the major issues was the debt being taken over by the Government. The other issue was recapitalising the airline through the acquisition of appropriate equipment and the right size of the routes that we want to operate and the modern equipment because the ones that we have are a bit aged and are costly in terms of operations,” said Mr Zaza.
The airline is set to take delivery of a new aircraft before the end of the year, while Government is financing systems automation, a development that puts the airline in a position to be re-admitted in the IATA.
“The Government pledged to recapitalise the national airline and they are sticking to their pledge and as I speak we are waiting delivery of a new aircraft before year end. The air craft is an ERJ 145 jet like the one which we are operating. The Government also pledged to do systems automation.
This will help the airline rejoin the IATA clearing house. We are currently not a member of the IATA clearing house. We are also looking at paying global distribution systems that include travel board,” said Mr Zaza.
The acting chief executive officer said the advantages of being a member of the IATA clearing house is that the airline can enter into alliances with other airlines.
“We will also be able to get into partnerships as well as code sharing with other airlines where we can even sell our tickets to any destination and put our passengers on other airlines and other airlines also doing the same,” said Mr Zaza.
The absence of Air Zimbabwe in the IATA puts the airline on a disadvantage as there are no airlines that want to partner with it.
“We are treated as a cash based customer or airline. Even if we want to purchase spares for the aircrafts we have to pay cash up front. So if we are now part of the IATA clearing house we can now get credits and people will be happy and comfortable to do business with us,” said Mr Zaza.
Meanwhile, IATA is on record acknowledging that Zimbabwe has made progress on reducing the debt that is owed under blocked funds that could not be repatriated from ticket sales, cargo space and other regulated activities. — Follow on Twitter: @nyeve14