An MDC-T MP on Tuesday suggested Air Zimbabwe should completely shut down its operations as the parastatal had become unviable, making losses instead of serious business.
This was said before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on State Parastatals and Enterprise Management by Chegutu West MP Takalani Matibe to the Air Zimbabwe management who had been called to appear before the committee to explain their current state of affairs.
Matibe’s assertions came after Air Zimbabwe acting CEO Innocent Mavhunga had told the committee that the airline was facing a $137,7 million debt, with $112,7 million owed internally and $25 million owed to institutions outside Zimbabwe.
“Is it not more viable to shut the operations of Air Zimbabwe and ground everything instead of continuously accruing debts and we know for sure that we have no airline in the country?” said Matibe.
“It seems nobody owes Air Zimbabwe anything, but you owe a lot of institutions inside and outside the country,” he said.
But, Mavhunga said that was not the best option for the ailing airline because research had shown that those countries that completely shut down their airlines, were in a worse off state than those who continued to operate even with the difficulties they experienced.
“Shutting down the airline is not an option because we have clearly good examples of countries that did that and they are now in a worse state than they were before,” said Mavhunga.
“Zambia and the DRC did that and they are not in any better state than they were before,” he said.
Mavhunga said Air Zimbabwe as a brand was of great value and what it only needed was sprucing up.
“It can be turned around if we implement what we said like restructuring the company and letting it operate on commercial lines. We have a very strong customer support base and our reputation in terms of safety is of great intrinsic value,” said Mavhunga.
He said the DRC owed the airline $4 million and that sanctions also played a part in the negative fortunes of the airline, including the era of “burning” US dollars where flights to China could cost as little as $5.