AIR Zimbabwe has announced it will re-launch its direct Harare-London service in November this year as management steps up the company’s turnaround programme.
The airline suspended services to the UK in December 2011 after one of its aircraft was seized over unpaid service charges at Gatwick but a new board appointed early this year is working to ensure the company regains lost market share.
Flights resumed last July with a truncated domestic services after the airline had been virtually grounded for about a year at a time global carriers were also announcing a return to the country.
An official with the company’s board told NewZimbabwe.com Thursday: “Our problems are often overstated. For instance, although it is widely claimed that the company is saddled with a US$140 million debt, the fact is US$100 million of that is owed to the shareholder (the government).
“What this means is that our actual obligations amount to about US$40 million which is not unmanageable considering the airline’s asset base.”
A mid-range 150-seater Airbus A320, one of two leased by the government, has been added to the fleet and was deployed on the Harare-Johannesburg route, replacing the long-range and bigger Boeing 767 which is more costly on short-haul runs.
The airline has also acquired the Brazil-made 50-seater Embraer ERJ145 jet which has been deployed on domestic routes, boosting services between Harare, Bulawayo and the Victoria Falls resort, with Hwange and Kariba expected to be covered soon.
This week, management announced a huge reduction in airfares with a Harare-Bulawayo return ticket now US$105, down from about US$300. Passengers plying the Harare-Johannesburg route will now pay US$275 for a return ticket, down from about US$420.