Solenta withdraws its aircraft from Air Zimbabwe

via Bulawayo24 NEWS | Solenta withdraws its aircraft from Air Zimbabwe by Pamela Shumba 20 March 2014

AIR Zimbabwe has increased its fares following the withdrawal of the 50-seater Embraer ERJ 145 LR that was leased to the national airline by Solenta Aviation Limited.

The airline used to service local routes between Bulawayo-Harare-Victoria Falls as well as the Bulawayo-Johannesburg route.

Local trips that were pegged at $150 have risen to $190 for the economy class starting last Sunday. The fares now range between $190 and $342 for a return ticket between Harare and Bulawayo.

According to the Chronicle, the Bulawayo-Johannesburg trip now ranges between $380 and $453 for a return ticket.

Informed sources told Business Chronicle that the Brazil-manufactured Embraer ERJ 145 LR 50-seater plane was leased to Air Zimbabwe from the Innscor Group, which is reportedly controlled by Mike Fowler, Zed Kuruneris and Zanu-PF Mashonaland East chairperson Ray Kaukonde.

They said the 50-seater plane, which was flying the Bulawayo-Harare-Victoria Falls route, was more economic to run than the remaining Boeing 737 and 767 which are more suited to long haul flights.

Air Zimbabwe, the sources said, was able to keep the fares low by not charging taxes including fuel tax and service charges. The national airline was only charging Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) and handling charges.

“The 50-seater plane was taken away at the weekend. The Harare-Bulawayo flight was always full because it is smaller. The development only affected the Harare-Bulawayo flight on Saturdays, which was scrapped while the other schedules remained the same.The bigger planes are expensive to run and that has forced Air Zimbabwe to raise its fares on Sunday,” said the source.

The Boeing 737 has a carrying capacity of 105 while the Boeing 767 accommodates 202 passengers. The planes reportedly fly with only 50 passengers, which is not sustainable business wise.

The sources said Air Zimbabwe could have leased the plane directly from Brazil at cheaper rentals, but sanctions against the country thwarted the move.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Obert Mpofu declined to comment on the matter yesterday and referred all questions to the Air Zimbabwe management.

“Those are operational issues that I cannot comment on. Talk to the management at Air Zimbabwe,” said Mpofu.The airline’s public relations manager Shingai Taruvinga also could not comment on the matter.

“Unfortunately I cannot assist you because I am not at work. I am in hospital. Maybe you can try the Ministry of Transport,” said Taruvinga.

Efforts to get a comment from Kaukonde were fruitless as his mobile phones went unanswered. Reports, however, indicate that the government is probing the airline on the leasing of the plane amid fears that Air Zimbabwe has lost millions of dollars through a huge fixed monthly rental for the plane.


  • comment-avatar

    There are no sanctions preventing Air Zimbabwe from leasing a plane directly from Brazil to save money. No doubt, someone is pocketing the difference, just as they were on the insurance.

  • comment-avatar
    Mseyamwa 10 years ago

    Aviation business is not cheap. It will always be expensive to lease an aircraft but solution should be to use it well and charge economic fsres that cover your costs. With the sliding economy not many can even think of flying Hre-Bulawayo hence the inability to fill a 737. The cow that is the Zim public has been milked dry by the powers that be and all they can come with is sanctions.

  • comment-avatar
    Roving Ambassador 10 years ago

    DI, spot on.

  • comment-avatar

    The de Havilland Q400 is a very reliable turbo prop well suited for short runs, high temperature and short runways and has been succesfully operated by SA Express and Ethiopian to name a few. So tough is the Q400 that I remember one time we landed on a gravel runway.
    Also in the same class is the ATR 72 with a seating capacity of 90. Air Botswana has had a successful operation of this aircraft and uses it on its three times a week flights between Gaborone and Harare.
    All these aircraft are available for lease to AZ if they take time to shop around.

  • comment-avatar
    gonzo 10 years ago

    it looks like save knows more about planes than the fools that are ment to be in charge at air zim i think rhodesian airways did not have these problems.

  • comment-avatar
    Daniel 10 years ago

    Air Rhodesia and SAA were the best airlines in Africa until 1980.Need I say more?

  • comment-avatar

    Zimbabwe was “The Jewel of Africa” until 1980. Need I say more??