The Sunday News
AIR Zimbabwe will next month receive a new 50-seater aircraft – an Embraer ERJ145 – as Government continues to re-equip the national carrier.
This is the second Embraer the national airline will have.
In a recent interview, Transport and Infrastructural Development Permanent Secretary Engineer Theodius Chinyanga said:
“The new aircraft is currently undergoing pre-delivery maintenance service and is now expected to be in the country in January 2023. The addition of this aircraft will see to the airline’s route expansion programme, which entails increased frequencies on the current schedules.
“The choice of aircraft type was informed by the need to have fleet commonality to manage maintenance costs.”
It is envisaged the narrow-bodied aeroplane will allow Air Zimbabwe to expand its route network in a two-pronged approach.
The strategy involves increasing frequencies on current domestic and regional destinations. It also entails opening of new regional routes, and at least one international destination in 2023.
“This plan entails building a robust domestic and regional feeder network for the international route,” Engineer Chinyanga said.
He said acquisition of the aircraft is part of Air Zimbabwe’s strategic plan to return to profitability.
“To this end, the national airline is in the process of implementing its six-year Strategic Turnaround Plan. Key among the deliverables in the plan is the acquisition of equipment, and the Government has already procured a second Embraer ERJ145.”
Furthermore, Government is working on a raft of measures that will see the national airline achieve adequate growth to sustain its operations.
Engineer Chinyanga said Government’s immediate game plan for Air Zimbabwe is to ensure the national airline is allowed to put in place the necessary business enablers.
“This includes concerted efforts to make sure the airline re-joins the IATA (International Air Transport Association) Clearing House, a facility that would provide Air Zimbabwe with better global partnership opportunities to expand its international route network.
“With this facility, the airline will be able to enter into alliances and partnerships with other airlines, thereby allowing it to codeshare with other airlines. This would also see Air Zimbabwe being able to sell its tickets to any destination in the world,” he said.
There are also plans to ensure the airline is connected to the global distribution systems, dubbed Amadeus and Galileo.
“This would enable efficient use of automation for the airline and travel agents to efficiently access information on flight schedules, fares and seat availability on Air Zimbabwe, and to make reservations and bookings, thus bringing about the sustainability of operations for the airline, and, ultimately, profitability,” Engineer Chinyanga said.
With the reopening of skies after the easing of Covid-19, there has been an increase in business for airlines, inching closer to pre-pandemic levels.
In his acceptance speech in August, Air Zimbabwe board chairperson Dr Silvanos Gwarinda said one of the strategies his team would pursue was ensuring Air Zimbabwe becomes an active participant in tourism marketing and promotional campaigns.
“Air Zimbabwe should be able to enjoy a substantial amount of this air travel market share. Zimbabwe is our home base. We cannot be seen to be playing second fiddle to other players in the development of Zimbabwe’s global air access,” he said.