Government is set to acquire 15 air planes as part of efforts to resuscitate the ailing Air Zimbabwe, Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Jorum Gumbo has said.
In an interview recently, Dr Gumbo said plans were at an advanced stage for the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe to acquire the planes under a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement with investors in the Diaspora.
“The Civil Aviation Authority is on the verge of acquiring 15 new air planes from Malaysia under a lease agreement,” he said. “The deal was penned between Government and a private company, DIDG, a consortium of business partners from the Diaspora.”
Dr Gumbo said Air Zimbabwe was reeling under a huge debt burden, which limited it from applying for credit from the market. Government has managed to rope in partners from the Diaspora, who are interested in the local airline, he said.
“Under this agreement, which I initially planned to sign with Malaysia Airline, the DIDG (Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group) company will facilitate the acquisition of these planes under a lease agreement, and this would be renewable after five years,” said Dr Gumbo. “Firstly, I had suggested that we enter into an agreement with the Malaysian airline, but the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe’s books were in the red, we could not meet loan requirements.”
Dr Gumbo said Government had settled for DIDG — the same company that is involved in the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) deal — which offered to assist in acquiring the planes from Malaysia.
“The national airline is reeling under a $330 million debt,” he said. “Its balance sheet is in bad state at the moment, hence, these other interventions.” Dr Gumbo said his ministry’s mandate was to oversee the rehabilitation of three major sectors — aviation, roads and rail transport.