The beleaguered national airliner, Air Zimbabwe, needs a minimum of $20 million as a firefighting measure to remain in the sky and clear its short-term debts.
Transport minister Nicholas Goche said the amount would be used to purchase fuel and cover other expenses while the ministerial taskforce set up to find ways to save the ailing airline worked on long-term plans.
Goche was speaking before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development chaired by Kwekwe MP Blessing Chebundo.
“If we get a minimum of $20 million, that would be enough for the airline to clear its short term expenses like buying fuel when they want to fly while we, as shareholders, are looking for other strategies to ensure they will remain viable,” he said.
Goche told the committee economic sanctions were one of the reasons affecting the Air Zimbabwe operations, including difficulties in getting spares for the aircraft, which resulted in the revenue of the airline not matching with its overhead expenses.
“The airline was making losses even during the Zimbabwe dollar era and the Boeing 767s were so old that passengers needed planes with reclining seats and in-flight entertainment, which were not available at Air Zimbabwe,” the minister said.
He added it is not easy to find an investor for the parastatal. “It is very difficult to attract an investor because of its balance sheet and debt and there is still no strategic partner that has come to the rescue of Air Zimbabwe,” he said. Goche said contrary to media reports, Air Zimbabwe had no money to purchase any new aircraft.
“They have leased Boeing 737-500 aircraft from Zambezi Air and that move is bringing in quite a lot of money, which is starting to reduce the deficits that Air Zimbabwe incurs every week,” he said.