Air Zimbabwe is expecting delivery of a new plane at the end of this month, while plans to resuscitate the London route are already underway following the clearance of the International Air Transport Association debt, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development Felix Mhona told the National Assembly on Wednesday.
He was responding to a question from Cde Nyarai Tsuura (Zanu PF Mutoko) who wanted clarity on the Government’s position on expanding the air transport fleet.
“I am glad to explain that the Government has got a very good policy with regards to air transport,” said Minister Mhona.
“Government has plans to procure aeroplanes to resuscitate Air Zimbabwe, I am sure by the end of this month, we will be receiving an aeroplane ERJ141 which is a 50-seater and it will be very helpful for the short routes, especially in the region.”
Minister Mhona said they were also focusing on expanding domestic and international route networks with focus now on servicing the London route.
“We would also like to resuscitate our London route because we very much want to revive our western routes in line with our re-engagement policy,” he said.
He cleared the air on the alleged ban of Air Zimbabwe planes from flying to London.
“That also makes me attend to the question that we have been banned from flying to London,” said Minister Mhona.
“It was an issue of some payment arrears to the International Air Transport Association, which the Government has since cleared so we are now connected to the international communication systems and we are now able to fly to international destinations.”
The State-owned airline last year cleared the US$1,4 million debt it owed to IATA and much focus is now on expanding the international route network and tap into global partnerships.
This latest development is expected to boost the tourism sector since the London route is a gateway to many other western countries.
The growth of Air Zimbabwe facilitates the opening and connection to markets and enables industries to link into the global supply chain.
Meanwhile, the US$153 million expansion and upgrading of the terminal at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare is now 85 percent complete, as Zimbabwe’s “Open Skies Policy” also continues to attract more airlines into the country and sees airlines increasing the frequency of their flights.
The Government is accelerating the momentum through enhancing aviation infrastructure modernisation in line with global standards.
Open skies means that any foreign airline can make arrangements to open routes into Zimbabwe, or increase the frequency of their flights into Zimbabwe.