Airzim gets Embraer, refurbished B737

AIR Zimbabwe yesterday took delivery of its second Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare to double passenger capacity and frequencies on domestic and regional routes while a Boeing 737, last operated in 2016, has been refurbished to ply the Harare-Dar es Salaam route.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona received and unveiled the new aircraft, pledging to continue with the resuscitation of Air Zimbabwe.

“It is my great honour and privilege to join all of you this morning, as we bask in the sunshine of the positive development of welcoming the Embraer ERJ 145, a 50-seater narrow-bodied aircraft to the Air Zimbabwe stable. Indeed, this asset will unlock value for the hospitality industry and cause downstream growth in the entire national aviation sector. 

“Allow me from the outset to express my profound gratitude to those who have worked so hard to bring these wings from South America to their rightful place. Further, I wish to singularly congratulate the Air Zimbabwe board and management for their remarkable leadership in the procurement of this national asset. 

“Indeed, occasions of this nature provide us with a wonderful opportunity to brush shoulders with colleagues from every walk of the aviation, tourism and hospitality industries,” he said.

Procurement of the plane reaffirms President Mnangagwa’s vision to grow Zimbabwe to be an upper-middle-income economy by the 2030, with air transport, through Air Zimbabwe, playing a critical role in enabling this endeavour. 

Minister Mhona said the growth of Air Zimbabwe facilitated the opening and connection to markets, trade and enables industries to link into global supply chains. 

“It is commendable for the national airline to increase its fleet as it boosts a brand that has weathered turbulence in recent years, a brand that is on a recovery trajectory. 

“The yesteryear challenges of unilateral, illegal coercive embargoes and the Covid-19 pandemic took a huge toll on the national asset, and eroded its market share, its brand image and service to the nation. 

“While these events of yesteryears left the national airline on the brink of collapse, the visionary and able leadership of the Second Republic, led by President Mnangagwa, breathed brand new impetus to the national airline, by instituting measures which placed it under administration, midwifed it out of the same and successfully rescued it through Treasury support, and culminated into the celebration of an asset we are witnessing today. 

“Air Zimbabwe’s strategic turnaround plan, which we launched a few years ago, is hinged on a number of key success factors, which include increased frequencies on the current route network for a customer-centric schedule, which can better serve the market with convenient and affordable travel. 

“The coming in of this Embraer ERJ I45 exactly coincides with our new found aspiration to develop a strong hub and spoke network with Harare and Victoria Falls as the main and tourist hubs respectively. 

“This entails the launch of this asset and activating possible partnerships for smaller equipment to service the full spectrum of airport network in Zimbabwe going forward,” he said.

It was, however, common cause that these goals cannot be attained in isolation. 

“They need to be buttressed with the support and engagement with your esteemed business partners, stakeholders and valued clients. As a Ministry, our vision is to be a regional hub for world-class transport networks, logistics and services by the year 2030 and therefore the expansion of the national airline’s asset base is a priority area,” Minister Mhona said.

He encouraged Air Zimbabwe to seize the opportunities in the implementation of the Africa Agenda 2063 flagship programme, of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), which presented Air Zimbabwe with abundant and unfettered possibilities to be part of aviation actors servicing the African market, in line with the vision espoused by the framers of the Yamoussoukro Decision.

“The national airline showed great resilience and a rare survival instinct during the global lockdowns, in the wake of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, by conducting passenger and cargo charter operations across continents, and even assisting neighbouring countries in the process. 

“As the market opens up for business, tourism and travel, Air Zimbabwe has stepped up, making its mark on the market as seen through schedule flexibility, allowing for multiple sectors in a day beyond its commercial schedule. 

“This is also testimony of a market that is warming up to re-engagement with Air Zimbabwe. This piece of hospitality in our skies which we are launching today, is an eloquent testimony of the aspirations we yearn for in the aviation sector in Zimbabwe and a symbol of resilience and sustainability of our aviation aspirations,” Minister Mhona said.

Air Zimbabwe board chairperson Mr Never Nyemudzo applauded the Government for procuring the asset.

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“Paragraph 170 of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) document explicitly says that and I quote: ‘During the NDS1, focus will be on enhanced destination access through  strengthening of the national airline.’ 

“The acquisition of the Embraer for Air Zimbabwe by the Government of Zimbabwe demonstrates alignment of national strategy with implementation. This important gesture responds to the current needs of the national airline where re-equipment is at the centre. Once equipment is acquired, the airline will ensure that the asset is sweated in order to derive maximum value,” he said. 

The event was attended by Deputy Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joshua Sacco and other senior Government officials.

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