Michael Tome Business Reporter
Nine airlines have shown interest in leasing Air Zimbabwe’s two long-haul Boeing 777-200ERs acquired from Malaysia in a deal expected to generate up to US$400 000 a month.
Ethiopian Airlines is understood to be leading the pack in lease negotiations.
Air Zimbabwe’s assistant administrator, Mr Tonderai Mukubvu of Grant Thornton, said yesterday in an interview with The Herald that leasing the planes and using the revenue to acquire smaller aircraft to re-establish strong domestic and regional services made more sense at the moment than rushing to establish international routes that are expensive to develop.
The lease revenue would also allow Air Zimbabwe to sort out its financial debts.
Once strong domestic and regional services were in place, then these would be able to feed passengers into viable long-range services, the sort of services the long-haul B777-200ERs were designed for.
One of the two B777s has already arrived in Zimbabwe and the second is expected to be delivered within a few weeks.
Said Mr Mukubvu: “Government has not made any decision on the final lessee, but we have nine suitors that have shown interest. We are at advanced stages of discussions with all suitors and they all seem capable to lease the planes from a financial capacity perspective.”
The process of searching for lessee would have reached closure much earlier, but the coronavirus outbreak has slowed down the process.
Air Zimbabwe was placed under reconstruction on October 5, 2018, under reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act.
The company is operating one plane, a Boeing 767 — servicing Harare-Bulawayo; Harare-Victoria Falls and the Harare-Johannesburg and Harare-Dar es Salaam routes.