Tendai Mugabe, Harare Bureau
GOVERNMENT has bought Air Zimbabwe two modern Boeing 777-200ER aircraft from Malaysia with the first landing in Harare yesterday and being handed over to the airline and the second expected in the next few weeks.
The Boeing 282-seater 777-200ER is ideal for inter-continental flights and is expected to contribute significantly towards the growth of the national airline and spur business opportunities for the country especially in the tourism sector.
Acting President Constantino Chiwenga led a high powered Government delegation that received the aircraft at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
After receiving the new aircraft, the Acting President handed it over to the Air Zimbabwe management led by company administrator Mr Reggie Saruchera.
In his remarks before a brief tour and inspection of the aircraft, VP Chiwenga said the arrival of the plane demonstrated Government’s commitment to capacitating Air Zimbabwe. “Receipt of this Boeing 777 aircraft is clear testimony that we are taking concrete steps to capacitate our national airline so that it plays a role in promoting economic growth, creating jobs and facilitating international trade and tourism,” he said.
“This initiative is therefore, part of our efforts towards the realisation of Vision 2030, as informed by our economic blueprint, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme. Government remains committed to ensuring that our beloved national airline is restored to full functionality.
“As we hand over this asset to the airline, we call upon the administrator to use it in the most effective manner possible. As Government, we remain ready to support the airline where necessary. I wish to point out my full awareness that this aircraft is best deployed on the long-haul routes. In this light, it is therefore necessary for all stakeholders involved to work together to ensure that this is possible. This asset comes at a crucial moment for the country as we aim to increase the amount of trade and business in line with our far reaching mantra that Zimbabwe is open for business.”
VP Chiwenga described tourism as one of the low hanging fruits that could help to transform the economy.
“I challenge all of us to play a part in Team Zimbabwe, so that we make tourism a cogwheel that will drive our economy forward. Tourism is now a billion-dollar industry which depends on the movement of large volumes of people in and out of countries such as our great Zimbabwe. This requires that the country should have a viable airline to deliver these tourists to and from all the country’s tourism destinations. Hence the revival of Air Zimbabwe cannot be over-emphasised,” he said.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza, who led the delegation that travelled to Malaysia to collect the plane, said the revival of Air Zimbabwe was of utmost importance to his ministry.
He said Zimbabwe had the potential to become a high end tourist destination which makes the revival of Air Zimbabwe a top priority. “Our national airline’s viability has been hamstrung due to the operation of aged and depleted fleet of aircraft,” said Minister Matiza.
“The process of reviving our airline entails a process of re-equipping and this is top most on our priorities as a ministry as witnessed by the delivery of the first of two Boeing 777 aircraft today. The delivery of the aircraft is one of the support that Government will continue to give to the national airline. For the aircraft to be made fully operational, efficient and effectively, Government will still need to give support to Air Zimbabwe to acquire a small regional aircraft. This will help the national airline to rebuild its national and regional network which will act as a springboard to launch international routes.”