Air Zim to capitalise on Covid-19 orders

Source: Air Zim to capitalise on Covid-19 orders | The Herald

Air Zim to capitalise on Covid-19 orders
Air Zimbabwe plane loading cargo destined for European market

Martin Kadzere

Air Zimbabwe has joined airlines offering passenger planes from transporting freight using cargo holds and cabins following cancellation of flights across the world due to coronavirus.

Airlines have been forced to strip out seats or adding nets and storage devices to fill in cargo instead of passengers.

About 50 percent of the world’s air cargo travels in the bellies of passenger planes. As a result, the cancellation of passenger flights as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus has reduced the freight capacity, disrupting the global supply chains.

Air Zimbabwe assistant administrator Mr Tonderai Mukubvu told The Herald Finance & Business the national carrier had started moving cargo using its Boeing 767 aircraft.

The cargo includes the Covid-19 medical supplies and other goods largely from China.

“We have received several enquiries from South Africa, Canada as well as locally and some of the orders have been confirmed,” said Mr Mukubvu.

“It is quite positive for us as we continue pursuing our self-recapitalisation drive even though we may have challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. We will build on the orders we are getting.”

The 767 aircraft has capacity to carry 46 tonnes of cargo. On top of that Air Zimbabwe has been given approval by the International Air Travel Association to use its passenger cabins to carry cargo.

The coronavirus crisis is threatening the survival of the aviation industry and global airlines require as much as US$200 billion of government support to stay afloat.

According to IATA, the US$150 billion to US$200 billion government bailout includes indirect support such as loan guarantees. IATA noted that the liquidity position of many global airlines has deteriorated with 75 percent having cash to take them through for only three months to cover unavoidable fixed costs.

The travel restrictions have affected international airlines including African giants Ethiopian Airlines, Egyptair, Kenya Airways and South African Airways. IATA indicated that international bookings in Africa declined about 20 percent in March and April.

Domestic bookings declined by about 15 percent in March and 25 percent in April. According to the latest data, ticket refunds increased by 75 percent in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 (February 01 – March 11).

The same data noted that African airlines had already lost US$4,4 billion in revenue by March 11.

Ethiopian Airlines has indicated a loss of US$190 million.

Declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on March 11, 2020, coronavirus has become a global emergency, given its devastating effect on the entire global population and the economy.

The crisis is plunging the world economy to depths unknown since the Second World War, adding to the woes of an world economy that was already struggling to recover from the pre 2008 financial crisis.

Beyond its impact on human health, coronavirus, is disrupting an interconnected world economy through global value chains, which account for nearly half of global trade.