Air Zimbabwe, the troubled national carrier of Zimbabwe, is in talks with an un-named Malaysian airline over plans to lease a Boeing 787 jet as it plans to acquire long-haul aircrafts and match competition from more established airlines, at the continental and global routes.
The loss-ridden airline is also targeting new routes including China, Malaysia and Singapore that are currently dominated by Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines, among other carriers.
The move comes after an official visit to Malaysia by President Robert Mugabe, Joram Gumbo, the minister of Transport, Communication and Infrastructure and other senior government officials, to scout for new aircraft for Air Zimbabwe, Nehanda Radio reported.
The airlines currently has seven operational aircraft including two leased from China Sonangol International, Ch-aviation reported.
The national carrier is considering new and lucrative routes to ensure the new aircraft remain profitable in the market and also plans to refurbish the Boeing 767 which is said to be in good condition.
Air Zimbabwe will however, avoid the European markets because of the threat of aircraft seizure by creditor firms especially in the United Kingdom.
Bid Air Services, a South African firm impounded a Boeing 737-500 for failure to settle a $500,000 debt while its largest aircraft, a Boeing 767-200 was seized in London over a $1.2 million debt in 2012, Pindula News reported.
The airline is looking for investors to fund its recovery process to the tune of $500 million, which it needs to rehabilitate its buildings, hangar fire equipment, airline spares and compensate its laid-off staff, Ch-aviation reported.
The government is also engaged in talks with Ethiopian Airlines to offer technical assistance to the crisis-hit Air Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, the airline’s chief executive officer Rington Mugenda dismissed Air Zimbabwe’s current debt of $330 million, as a minor problem compared to other loss-making national airlines in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The government did not allocate funds for the ailing airline in the 2016 Budget, unlike in neighboring South Africa where the government set aside $5 million to the national carrier that has been making losses in recent times.
In Kenya, the government loaned $98.5 million to the national carrier, Kenya Airways in plans to help it mitigate against a record after-tax loss of $ 253.2 million (Sh 25.7) last year, Business Daily reported.
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