Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Government has started the arduous process of reviving Air Zimbabwe by scrapping duty on some engine spares and components to assist the national airline turn around its fortunes.
The airline has some of its fleet grounded owing to shortage of spares and other accessories and it is expected that the scrapping of duty on the spare parts would result in the aircraft being serviced and soon taking to the skies once more.
Estimates indicate that the airline requires about $300 million to operate viably.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa made the announcement on the scrapping of duty on spare parts in a recent Government Gazette.
The amendments, which allow for rebate of duty, were published in Statutory Instrument 56 of 2017 in the Government Gazette. “It is hereby notified that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development has, in terms of Section 235 of the Customs and Excise Act (Chapter 23:02), made the following regulations: 1. These regulations may be cited as the Customs and Excise (General) (Amendment) Regulations, 2017 (No.85).
“144L (1) Subject to this section and to such conditions as the commissioner-general may fix, a rebate of duty shall, with immediate effect from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017, be granted on engine spares and components for Air Zimbabwe.”
The Statutory Instrument 56 of 2017, indicated that the rebate only applied to the itemised list approved by Minister Chinamasa.
Air Zimbabwe public relations executive Hazel Zisanhi said in a statement yesterday that the airline was still to be briefed about the new development.
“We will have answers for you tomorrow (today), there is no communication to that effect from our shareholders at the moment,” she said.
Air Zimbabwe is being asked to replace its ageing fleet, considering the years it has been in service amid concerns of increased technical faults that have resulted in takeoff delays, cancellation of flights and mid-flight scares.
Air Zimbabwe’s fleet comprises an Airbus A320, MA60s, Boeing 767s and Boeing 737s.
The national carrier is having challenges and is working on strategies to return to viability.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said while appointing a new Air Zimbabwe board last year that there was need for the full implementation of the turnaround of the national airline.
He said among the issues to be worked on were ensuring the return of the Airbus A320, which had been undergoing maintenance in South Africa, finalisation of the production of audited accounts for the airline, which had been outstanding since 2009 and attending to all labour and human resources issues bedevilling the airline.
Other urgent matters were to instil business ethics in management by ensuring that at least flight schedules were adhered to, ensuring the revival of lucrative regional and international routes and working closely with the ministry and Government in identifying a strategic partner and develop other sound business models to make the airline competitive.
The new board is led by Professor Chipo Dyanda, who is deputised by Mr Pathias Chironga.
Other members of the board are Messrs Pascal Changunda, Luckson Muzondo, Lyton Shumba, Gift Noko, Fulton Mangwanya and Ms Mandas Marikanda as well as Ms Dacl-Ray Rambanapasi.
Early this year, Zimbabwe chief executive officer Captain Ripton Muzenda told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development that one of their strategic objectives for this year was to buy an aircraft.
He said all the aircraft they were operating were owned by Government. Capt Muzenda said they needed to ensure that they maintained 95 percent aircraft departure reliability, though they faced challenges from their old aircraft.
He said the other challenge was lack of vehicles to carry their cabin crews. Capt Muzenda said they were hiring two vans to transport cabin crews and intended to buy their own for the purpose.
The continued challenges facing Air Zimbabwe has seen other airlines taking its lucratice routes and it would be difficult for the airline to re-establish itself in those routes.