LONDON – Zimbabwe’s national airline, Air Zimbabwe, is expecting to rejoin the International Air Transport Association (IATA) within the next 3 months, which will enhance the airline’s prospect to expand its international route network and tap into global partnerships, Air Zimbabwe’s acting CEO, Tafadzwa Zaza, said.
IATA is also on record and acknowledges the effort put in by Air Zimbabwe to reduce their $140 million debt, which is owed under blocked funds that not be paid back using ticket sales, cargo space, and other regulated activities.
Due to this big hurdle, the airline is not eligible to join the IATA Clearing House (ICH). The ICH is, according to IATA, providing fast, secure, and cost-effective billing and settlement services in multiple currencies for the air transport industry.
IATA is achieving this through, among others, applying the principles of set-off/netting, thus reducing both cost and risk while increasing speed.
The ICH also provides a safety net for airlines when they either cease operation, fail to meet one of their obligations, or declare bankruptcy.
“The process is underway to rejoin IATA, which I think in the next three months we should be a member of the IATA Clearing House,” said Mr. Zaza.
“Once we are a member we will be able to get into these alliances as well as business sharing models with other airlines so that we can have our passengers, for example, traveling all the way to Harare or German or Dubai without a hassle.
“We will also be able to sell tickets for our passengers here in Dubai or connect passengers from here all the way to Victoria Falls.
“So, it’s very critical to join the IATA Clearing House to be able to contribute to the aviation global distribution system. Right now it’s difficult to pick us on the system since we are not a member.”
Mr. Zaza was part of the country’s delegation sent to Dubai to engage with some potential investors and participated in the infrastructure and tourism finance conference that was organized as part of the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020.
While focusing on unifying the domestic and the international markets, Mr. Zaza said that the airline is keen on improving its fleet and upgrading its key infrastructure to be able to offer better quality to its consumers.
“With the Government’s support we are going to expand and increase our frequency and we are open to engaging investors that will come and assist either with equipment or financially,” he said.
“We have got the long haul 777 aircraft but we are not in a position to operate them now before we consolidate on the domestic or regional.
“So, as a short-term plan we want to lease those aircraft either as wet lease or dry lease and we invite investors interested in those, or we to work together. The long-term plan is to convert either one or all of them into cargo aircraft.”
On the domestic market, Mr. Zaza is ready to take on partnerships for local air travel with airlines that operate smaller aircraft that would otherwise not be able to fly to certain destinations if it were being flown with larger aircraft.
“Anyone who feels they can be part of this is very welcome. There are also opportunities for travel and accommodation and other package activities,” he said.
“Air Zimbabwe is one of the airlines in Africa with one of the best infrastructure for technical maintenance and we invested so much in this area in terms of hangers. Our hangers can accommodate the Boeing 747 and Airbus 340 and it’s one of the biggest in Africa.
“We have got the capabilities to do maintenance works on aircraft for regional clients and we have a well-trained team and infrastructure and will be happy to have investors to modernize this.”
Mr. Zaza said that the airline is also ready to partner with potential investors to improve their current training facilities and maintenance services for airlines that fly to Africa.