Simba chikore airline plan ‘will be blocked’

Plans by local investors and Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law to set up a new airline in Zimbabwe appear to have suffered a setback in the wake of last month’s military takeover, a newspaper reports.

‘Zimbabwe Airways’, linked to a group of local and foreign-based investors, was to take over from the struggling national airline Air Zimbabwe, reports said. Simba Chikore, the husband of Mugabe’s only daughter Bona and a former chief operating officer of Air Zimbabwe, was also allegedly in on the plan.

The new company had already acquired four Boeing 777s from Malaysia, the Zimbabwe Independent reports.

But the administration of new president Emmerson Mnangagwa is likely to block the new company from taking off.

“The deal is now being scrutinised and once that is completed, the president will be advised to block it,” an unnamed aviation source told the paper. The source told the paper that plans are actually underway to resuscitate Air Zimbabwe, which is struggling with a hugely-reduced fleet of planes and a debt of more than 300 million US dollars.

“The airline wants to lease new equipment and increase its frequency on lucrative domestic and international routes,” the source said.

Air Zimbabwe was once highly-regarded, flying its planes to several international destinations. But after years of mismanagement, which saw its planes frequently commandeered for Mugabe’s personal use, the airline is no longer viable. It has been hit hard by the emergence of low cost airlines serving local and regional routes.

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