Zimbabwe has always been an interesting country. A country bordered by the Zambezi river to the North accompanied with the Great Victoria falls, while having a not so pristine aviation record in terms of the operations of its airlines.
A few years ago, Zimbabwe bought 4 Boeing 777-200s from Malaysia Airlines which would be destined for Zimbabwe Airlines, a new start-up meant to succeed the debt-ridden Air Zimbabwe.
Fast forward to 2018, one of the aircraft arrived in Zimbabwe bearing the Zimbabwe Airlines colours(way different from Air Zimbabwe). A few days later, a scandal emerged that the Zimbabwean govt had overpaid for the two aircraft with $140m ‘disappearing’ into thin air.
None of the 777s sitting in HRE had conducted a single flight with a controversy rising with Air Zimbabwe which refused to give Zimbabwe Airlines a Hangar to store the 777 claiming that the facility lacked necessary safety equipment hence not up to intl standards.
The aircraft finally flew for the first time but back to Kuala Lumpur for maintenance checks(A-checks to be specific)
The Zimbabwean govt announces that Air Zimbabwe would merge with Zimbabwe Airlines. According to the New Zimbabwean:
THE controversial Zimbabwe Airways has been merged with the troubled Air Zimbabwe, transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza confirmed Monday.
Simba Chikore, son-in-law to former president Robert Mugabe, took a lead last year in the establishment – using State funds – of Zimbabwe Airways in a murky deal with left many believing the former first family owned the airline.
Plans to establish the airline however, hit headwinds after Mugabe was toppled last November by the military.
Addressing reporters in the capital Monday, minister Matiza confirmed at the two airlines had been merged, adding that Zimbabwe Airways aircraft would service regional and international routes.
“I would like to inform the nation that Zimbabwe Airways is a government entity,” the minister said.
“It is important to know that Air Zimbabwe does not have the adequate aircraft mix, an issue which has forced the airline to operate at a deficit.
“With the new aircraft in place government intends to merge Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways to complement one another on local and international routes.”
Asked on why government had set up Zimbabwe Airways in the first place, considering the administration’s failure to capitalise Air Zimbabwe, Matiza said there was nothing wrong with having a second national airline.
“There is nothing wrong with having two national airlines; it (Zimbabwe Airways) was set-up for strategic business but our main purpose right now is to have Air Zimbabwe in the sky,” he said.
Rumours emerge that Ethiopian Airlines will buy a stake in the airline, helping it to realize some returns.
The 777 from a few years back resurfaces to much fanfare. The government sounds excited to start new long haul services to the United Kingdom and China. With all the drama Zimbabwe has gone through for the recent years with its airlines, is this a fresh start or a charade that is part of a vicious cycle?