Comment: Air Zim can’t make it alone

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Plagued by years of mismanagement and unending industrial action by employees, the Air Zimbabwe board is faced with insurmountable challenges to turn around the fortunes of the airline.

The airline is back in the skies after almost six weeks of industrial action for the umpteenth time by pilots, albeit flying empty.

It seems there is no way AirZim would be able to make it alone, it definitely needs to look for a partner if it is to properly maintain the current fleet, destinations and frequencies and also grow the airline.

Government has on more than one occasion indicated that it had no money to bail out the troubled national airline, but has found itself doing just that occasionally.

We believe there should be a holistic approach to the problems affecting the airline rather than the piecemeal approaches being adopted each time there is an issue that needs to be addressed.

In a revealing interview with The Financial Gazette, Air Zimbabwe board chairperson Jonathan Kadzura said in its current outlook, there were zero chances of a well-meaning businessperson partnering AirZim with a debt overhang of around $125 million and old equipment.

He said after years of being frustrated by the failure to get a clear answer from the Ministry of Transport, he was told by the Finance minister to “wind it down, I can help you to wind it down using the Companies Act”.

With the airline heavily indebted, frequent flight delays and cancellations, turning around the fortunes of the airline will no doubt not be easy.

Moreover, it will be more difficult to resuscitate the fallen image of the airline to attract customers.

Having pulled out of the 18 routes from 25 and scaled down on the number of flights per week to “rationalise operations and contain costs”, it remains to be seen how soon the airline would be able to re-enter the same routes.

Going forward, the national airline has to seek global partnerships if is to extricate itself from the quagmire it finds itself in.

Nearly all of the airline’s regional competing airlines are in different forms of strategic alliance or belong to a global alliance be it Skyworld or Star Alliance.

This way Air Zimbabwe will be able to connect to more than 600 destinations in the world.

The airline should prioritise courting potential strategic partners or joining global alliances once pertinent issues, including debt restructuring and recapitalisation, have been attended too.