HARARE – Air Zimbabwe (Air Zim) is struggling to secure a partner, with the national airline now bearing the brunt of jokes as it suffers several mishaps.
This comes as the airline’s fleet is almost grounded, while it recently issued hand-written boarding passes due to challenges.
It was recently blacklisted by the European Union over safety concerns.
Transport minister Joram Gumbo told the Daily News in a telephone interview on Monday that “there is no partner yet”, despite years of searching.
Early this year, Air Zim chief executive Ripton Muzenda told Parliament’s Transport portfolio committee that the airline was in talks with two strategic partners to help resuscitate it by clearing its ballooning $300 million debt. The flag carrier is, however, now reportedly seeking partnerships with other international airlines instead of a partner to pay off its debt.
Muzenda also revealed that the flag carrier was working towards gaining International Air Transport Association (Iata) readmission by May 31 this year.
Currently, the airline is operating at 40 percent, with a load factor of 42 percent, according to the board and management.
Passengers flying from Victoria Falls to Harare recently clashed with the crew after they were told to leave their bags behind as they would be too heavy, according for the flight in a video shared on micro-blogging site Twitter. Delays have also become part of the airline’s culture with various flights being cancelled and delayed.
This has infuriated passengers, who now prefer other foreign airlines.
“Flying Air Zimbabwe is such a bad idea. We were supposed to leave Victoria Falls at 4pm. Was told it’s been moved to 7pm. It’s now 7pm — haven’t boarded,” Gilbert Makore said on Twitter.
Manfred Chaniwa also wrote on Facebook: “So our beloved Air Zimbabwe was supposed to leave Jo’burg at 19:00hrs now delayed to past midnight, that’s if the plane comes!”
Another Twitter user, [email protected], joked: “They should make it clear when you purchase an Air Zimbabwe ticket that you are actually entering a raffle and travel is not guaranteed.”
Marakia Bomani posted on Twitter: “You book Air Zimbabwe because you are seriously having suicidal thoughts. As simple as that.”