Harare, (New Ziana) –Air Zimbabwe’s initial bid to find a strategic partner has hit a dead end but efforts to turn around the troubled airline are progressing with at least four aircraft expected to be up in the skies in the second quarter of this year, an official has said.
Air Zimbabwe was placed under reconstruction in October 2018, and is currently under the management of Reggie Saruchera of Grant Thornton, famed for his abilities to turn around struggling companies, who was appointed its administrator.
Finding a strategic partner for the airline was seen as one of the top priorities in getting the carrier out of the woods.
Government is currently the sole shareholder in the airline.
But Saruchera, without revealing the numbers of potential investors, said government had turned down their bids.
“A process to solicit for a strategic partner or investor was undertaken but none of the parties that expressed interest and submitted investment bids were successful,” Saruchera said in an update on the reconstruction.
He urged the authorities to instead focus on re-capacitating the airline and attending to its huge pre-reconstruction legacy debts, estimated at around US$380 million.
Saruchera said the airline will soon have its two Boeing 777-200ER purchased from Malaysia, Embraer aircraft and Boeing 737-200 operational.
Of the two Boeing 777, one was delivered last month while the other is undergoing maintenance in the Asian country and is expected to be delivered next month.
“The national airline will be leasing out the two Boeing 777-200ER aircraft in the immediate, pending re-introduction of international flights to China and London after developing robust domestic and regional route network,” Saruchera said.
At least nine companies have so far expressed interest to lease the planes, he said.
After securing the Embraer jet in April 2019, Air Zimbabwe has been unable to use the aircraft due to lack of access to its backup manuals, software and spares.
But Saruchera said progress has been made with regards to accessing the manuals, software and spares, with the aircraft expected to go for maintenance this month.
“…we anticipate to have the aircraft operational by the beginning of the second quarter of 2020,” he said.
With regards the old Boeing 737-200 aircraft, the only reliable aircraft that has been carrying the Air Zimbabwe flag in the past few years, Saruchera said its maintenance was almost complete.
“We plan to have the Boeing 737-200 aircraft operating our domestic and regional routes from March 2020,” he said.