Last September I wrote about how Zimbabwe wanted to lease four Boeing 777 aircraft. The country’s state owned airline, Air Zimbabwe, is in serious debt (somewhere to the tune of 300 million USD), and there was just one, tiny little detail standing in the way of the airline (and country) getting those 777s. Specifically, they couldn’t afford them. As the transport minister said at the time:
“We don’t have money to buy new planes. If we had money, we would have bought already.”
I feel you, Zimbabwe. Same.
Somehow — and this is truly beyond me — Zimbabwe did in fact take delivery of their first two Boeing 777s this week.
Reuters reports that so far Zimbabwe has bought two Boeing 777 aircraft (which were from Malaysia Airlines). The finance minister claims that these new planes will be leased to a new local airline, until the national airline returns to profitability.
Wait, so they’re going to lease the 777s to a new start-up airline, when the government owned airline is in debt? I also love how they say “until” the national airline returns to profitability, as if that’s ever going to happen. It’s clear that they’re just trying to start over here and let the old airline die.
Apparently the deal for four Boeing 777s cost a total of 70 million USD, but so far only two have been paid for, so we’ll see if/when the country gets the other two planes.
So while Air Zimbabwe continues to be in financial ruin, the new 777s will go to Zimbabwe Airways, which has undisclosed owners. The planes with remain in the government’s ownership since this is only a lease, and the airline will have to come up with a credible business plan.
Interestingly the government says that the new airline has no links to former president Mugabe and his family, yet when the planes arrived on Wednesday, Mugabe’s daughter was there to meet her plane, and her husband was one of the pilots.
I mean… I… yeah… I don’t know.
If you have a government owned airline that’s in serious debt and you want to start a new airline, is the 777 really the right plane for the job?
Let me just say that I can’t wait to see what routes they decide to launch, and I’d like to be first in line to review their onboard product! Media reports suggest that the airline could launch operations by July, with London, Beijing, and Johannesburg being among the first destinations for the airline. Watch out, Emirates, there’s a new kid on the block!