via AirZim flies near empty – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 16, 2014 by Paidamoyo Muzulu
Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) is struggling to break even on its Harare-Johannesburg-Harare route amid disclosures that one flight on March 29 had less than 30 passengers aboard.
The airline was using a B767-200 ER for its regional flights, which has a capacity of 181 passengers.
“The airline flew nearly empty on its Johannesburg-Harare flight on the night of March 29 with barely 30 passengers on the plane,” a source said.
The airline had three flights on the route on that particular day which had the following passengers: Flight UM364, 19 passengers; Flight UM164, 34 passengers; and Flight UM462 had 121 passengers.
However, AirZim flights and operation director Captain Ed Lance denied that there was a nearly empty flight, but could not give the exact figures.
“The flight had a good load and it’s not looking bad from the statistics before me, it was not that bad,” Lance said.
He referred NewsDay to the general manager (passenger services), a Mukarakate, who was not immediately available for comment.
The airline is currently operating domestic flights and the Harare-Johannesburg route only.
It stopped travelling to London nearly two years ago over debts to service providers.
Transport minister Obert Mpofu recently said that the airline had to transform itself and adopt a sustainable model for its business which included using smaller planes for its domestic and regional flights.
To that end, the airline a fortnight ago posted an advertisement calling for bids from companies that could offer wet/dry leases of smaller planes such as Embraer jets for use on domestic and regional routes.
Embraer jets have a seating capacity for 50 passengers.
AirZim has a complement of 11 planes, but most were grounded for servicing leaving only three operational, a B737 and two B767.
One of the B767s is reserved as the Presidential plane.
The airline has three MA60 planes, which have been grounded for some time now, and two leased Airbus A320, which have remained grounded in South Africa where they went for servicing at the end of last year.