Air Zimbabwe is Zimbabwe's national carrier, and has its hub at Harare International Airport. The airline's headquarters are based on the property of Harare International Airport. The airline previously operated a network in the Southern African region, which also linked to London-Gatwick and Asia. Financial difficulties prompted Air Zimbabwe to discontinue services in February 2012, although some local and regional services have since resumed.
The history of Air Zimbabwe goes back to 1967, when Air Rhodesia Corporation began operating. Air Zimbabwe was inaugurated in a newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980, taking over from Air Rhodesia. The airline registered a profit of £220,000 in June 1980 as the fiscal year ended. The carrier subsequently expanded its international and regional routes, and in 1982 it accommodated the freighter company Affretair. By March 1985, the airline boasted a fleet of seven Viscount 700s, as well as five Boeing 707-320Bs, and an employee pool of 1,443. The airline was riddled with financial difficulties in 2004, which saw its passenger numbers drop from one million in 1999 to 23,000 in 2005. Air Zimbabwe was further suspended from the international financial and booking system of IATA in 2011 due to outstanding debts. Some of the airline's aircraft were impounded in late December 2011, following its inability to settle its debts.
Ownership and Management
Since March 2012, Air Zimbabwe has been operating under Air Zimbabwe Private Limited, which is entirely owned by the nation's government. However, there have been plans to privatize Air Zimbabwe to some level. Chipo Dyanda took office as the airline's chairwoman in July 2017. The appointment of Simba Chokore as the Chief Operating Officer in 2016 elicited controversy because he is the Zimbabwean president's son-in-law.
The increase of the country's economic ties with China facilitated the launch of the Harare-Beijing service in November 2004. In 2009, the airline included Kuala Lumpur in its network. British Airways stopped flying the Harare-London route in 2007, leaving Air Zimbabwe to profit from one of its most lucrative services. From April 1, 2011, a capacity boost was implemented on the Harare-London-Gatwick route. In 2011 and 2012, the airline temporarily suspended its flights to several destinations including Johannesburg and London. The airline flies locally to Kariba, Victoria Falls, and Bulawayo, and regionally to Lusaka, Johannesburg, and Dar es Salaam.
Air Zimbabwe purchased two Viscount 800s planes in the early 1980s from Dan-Air as replacements for the Viscount 700s used by Air Rhodesia. The two aircraft constituted the airline's fleet until 1989. The carrier began operations with five Boeing 707s, and a Boeing 737-200 was acquired in 1985. The first Boeing 767-200 ER aircraft was inaugurated in late 1989. Air Zimbabwe leased two MA-60 turboprops from China, while a third was donated in 2006. An Airbus A320 was added to the fleet in 2013. The airline's current fleet includes one Xian MA60, two Boeing 767s, one Airbus A320-200, and two Boeing 737s.
The airline has been reporting losses for several years and has also had irregular services. There has been no complete reporting of its annual financial standing despite the airline being government owned. The carrier's audited accounts were tabled last in 2008.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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