Air Zimbabwe is set to take delivery of its first two Boeing 777s. The B77-200(ER)s are currently owned by Malaysia Airlines and are being prepared to be released.
CH-Aviation reports that the deal was negotiated by the government of Zimbabwe. The two airliners were in operation for nearly 14 years before being retired by the Malaysian carrier.
The models were set to be taken by Zimbabwe Airways last year, but payment ended up being disputed. The startup is also owned by the country’s government and was set up to support Air Zimbabwe’s struggling structure. The company is yet to secure its AOC from the nation’s Civil Aviation Authority.
Therefore, the aircraft were shipped back to Malaysia on May 25th, 2018, before a new deal was confirmed by Zimbabwean authorities.
Zimbabwe’s Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister, Joel Biggie Matiza spoke about the new deal with the country’s daily newspaper, The Herald, saying.
“The national flag carrier, under reconstruction, could have taken the delivery of the planes a little bit earlier had the deal not been choked by administrative challenges. I sent a team to Malaysia headed by the permanent secretary to finalize the issue. The two aircraft are done, one should be released as soon as possible.”
The carrier also received an Embraer ERJ-145 in April 2019, which is yet to be certified. Once ready, the jetliner will be deployed on regional flights.
These deliveries will help bolster Air Zimbabwe’s holdings following a swathe of operational issues. Earlier this summer, there were reports that the carrier was embroiled in a court case over the ownership of two Airbus A320s. The airline received the units over seven years ago, however, they have hardly been in use ever since.
The company that leased the models to them, South Jet, states that the carrier is yet to make payment for the delivery. However, Air Zimbabwe claim that the airplanes were a donation and are seeking the paperwork to allow repairs to be made.
Zimbabwe’s long-standing former leader, Robert Mugabe passed away last week. Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government, who owns Air Zimbabwe, has been battling with the country’s economy as a whole for many years.
Amid economic sensitivity, the airline industry has been at risk due to customer habits skewing its financials. With the value of the local currency being so unpredictable, citizens were parking their funds by purchasing tickets in advance, only to refund them at a later date.
Many other airlines in Africa are not going through the same downturns as Zimbabwe’s. There have been reports that within 15 years, the continent will transport an extra 192 million passengers annually. This will bring the total amount of yearly passengers traveling to and from the region to 303 million.
As a member of the African Airlines Association, Air Zimbabwe will be looking to take advantage of new opportunities. Building its fleet is a positive way to start competing in the changing market.
Simple Flying reached out to Air Zimbabwe regarding the news but had not heard back prior to publication. We will update with any further announcements.
By Sumit Rehal