via Air Zim needs $340m for new wings 01 September 2014
TROUBLED airline, Air Zimbabwe, needs US$339 million to buy new aircraft, transport and communications acting board chairman Eric Harrid said on Monday.
He said the national airline may soon resume international flights after it was readmitted into the International Air Transport Association following a successful safety audit.
“Apart from US$339 million to buy new planes, a further US$28 million is needed to modernise operations at Air Zimbabwe,” he said.
Plant and equipment needs US$10,5 million, human resources US$11,4 million, IATA ticketing system US$7,5 million and US$2,1 million to refurbish existing ones, Harrid said.
“Close to 40 percent of total costs is fuel as Zimbabwe’s price is much higher than what is prevailing in the region,” said Harrid.
“In South Africa a litre of petrol will cost less than US$0,80 cents compared to the local price of more than US$1,50 per litre. This has given a competitive edge to other players in the region.”
Weighed down by years of mismanagement, poor industrial relations and bureaucratic bungling, management at Air Zimbabwe have a daunting task of improving operations at the national airline.
The airline is heavily indebted and morale among the staff is said to be at its lowest ebb.
Frequent flight delays and cancellations, loss of luggage, over-bookings and shoddy passenger treatment are regular complaints from travellers.
Aviation experts say the problems at Air Zimbabwe were symptomatic of bigger issues, which include mismanagement, poor industrial relations resulting in low productivity and disparity between revenue and expenditure.
“When such things are not in order, human beings tend to display passive resistance. How do you expect someone who has not been paid to smile or offer you a pleasant service?” a senior manager at the airline asked.
An airline is usually strong at home, but in Zimbabwe a lot of people cannot afford to fly, necessitating a deliberate strategy to grow the market outside of the country’s borders.
Some aviation experts are of the opinion that a majority stake in the national airline should be sold to a strategic partner that is financially sound.