One of the four planes that were purchased from Malaysia by the government has been delivered and will be leased to a new airline-Zimbabwe Airways.
The plane, a Boeing 777 landed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in the afternoon of Wednesday the 11th 2018.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the acquisition of new planes was meant to establish a national airline that was viable and would significantly contribute to the country’s economic development.
Chinamasa said as government they decided to stop putting resources into Air Zimbabwe which he described as a ‘bottomless pit’.
“We pondered over options and it became clear that we could not continue to put more resources into a bottomless pit because that would not serve the purpose that we had wanted a strong airline to service the interests of the country, to bring in tourists, to bring in business people towards the revival and sustenance of the country’s economic fortunes,” minister Chinamasa said.
Chinamasa further emphasised that the government through a special vehicle called the Zimbabwe Aviation Company was going to lease the planes to third parties until Air Zimbabwe developed a viable and profitable business plan.
He however noted that both the Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company who in this case are the lessor and Zimbabwe Airways (the lessee), are 100 percent owned by government, dismissing speculation that the former first family and son in law Simba Chikore had shares in Zimbabwe Airways.
“The air plane parked outside is the property and asset of the government of Zimbabwe. I know speculation has been rife that the aircraft belonged to the former first family- that is false, they have no interest of any kind in this aircraft. I also want to set the record straight that Simba Chikore has no shareholding in that plane, directly or indirectly,” Chinamasa added.
Chinamasa also dismissed reports that the government had spent more than 200 million dollars on the four planes but indicated that through vigorous negotiations, they had cost the country 70 million dollars instead.
Zimbabwe has managed to pay 40 million dollars for two planes and was mobilising resources for the other two.
Chinamasa also revealed that the government was in the process of acquiring six Umbria planes that will act as feeders to the larger planes. So far they had paid for one.
Speaking at the same occasion the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Dr Jorum Gumbo said that he was happy that the delivery process had begun and in the process had vindicated them.
There have been speculations that minister Gumbo, the former first family and son in law Simba Chikore had interests in Zimbabwe Airways.
“I just want to say that I am greatly appreciative about today’s gathering because I have been vindicated. The statement by minister Chinamasa has put brought clarity, so from today the project is not for “Gumbo na Chikore naMugabe,” it’s for the country,” minister Gumbo said.
“Ungaba ndega wega yakanyogwa kuti Zimbabwe iyi, nokukura kudaro ungaiba ukaiita project yako?” minister Gumbo queried.
He blamed staff members from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe and Air Zimbabwe for peddling lies around the acquisition of the planes.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Karikoga Kaseke warned that for the airline to be a serious player there is need to institute a board populated with professionals.
“I want to urge you honorable minister Dr Jorum Gumbo Sir, to really put a very serious board to this airline, put a very serious management team to this airline because when that is done everything else will follow,” Kaseke said.
He said the aircraft was going to uplift the country as a serious aviation country.