Zimbabwe’s Two (Corrupt, Broke, And Mostly Grounded) Airlines Are Merging

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Zimbabwe has just announced that the country’s two (mostly) grounded airlines — Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways — are merging. This is just so ridiculous and pathetic.

For those of you not up to speed on aviation in Zimbabwe, the country’s government owned airline, Air Zimbabwe, was about 300 million USD in debt. So what did the country do? They announced that they’d acquire four 777s that they would lease to a start-up airline, called Zimbabwe Airways.

Naturally when you want to start a new airline you immediately order four widebodies, because that’s the best way to start a profitable airline… not.

Much of the corruption in Zimbabwe over the past decades has centered around Robert Mugabe. The country claimed that the new airline had nothing at all to do with him. However, when the plane (with the registration code Z-RGM, with “RGM” coincidentally being Robert Mugabe’s initials) touched down at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport with Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law emerging from the plane in a captain’s uniform, a lot of us were left scratching our heads.

Since the airline acquired their first 777, they haven’t actually operated a commercial flight. Rather the plane was flown back to Kuala Lumpur for maintenance. According to officials, the delay in launching commercial operations was that the airline had no trained pilots to operate the plane, and they realized acquiring ex-pat pilots is expensive.

It has now been several months since we’ve heard much about Zimbabwe Airways, so we have an update at last.

Zimbabwe’s transport minister has announced that the country’s two airlines are merging. According to New Zimbabwe:

“I would like to inform the nation that Zimbabwe Airways is a government entity.”

“It is important to know that Air Zimbabwe does not have the adequate aircraft mix, an issue which has forced the airline to operate at a deficit.

“With the new aircraft in place government intends to merge Air Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Airways to complement one another on local and international routes.”

Asked on why government had set up Zimbabwe Airways in the first place, considering the administration’s failure to capitalise Air Zimbabwe, Matiza said there was nothing wrong with having a second national airline.

“There is nothing wrong with having two national airlines; it (Zimbabwe Airways) was set-up for strategic business but our main purpose right now is to have Air Zimbabwe in the sky.”


(Tip of the hat to @MeenzMev)

  1. LOL. When you max out your credit card; you invent a new persona and open a new credit card.

    The Creed Bratton way of starting an airline.

  2. I flew air Zimbabwe last year from JNB-BYO. We were meant to fly from JNB-VFA, but Mugabe wanted to use the plane last minute, so we were diverted to BYO and put on a minibus for seven hours to VFA. The JNB-BYO sector was on an old 762 in SHOCKING condition, but in all fairness the service and food were actually decent. There were also more crew than passengers (six passengers and about 10 cabin crew). The return, VFA-JNB was on an ancient 732, which was actually in decent condition for its age. It left VFA on time but arrived in JNB an hour late due to an unscheduled stop in BYO, but the food and service were still surprisingly good, especially considering it was a full flight.

    I’m just surprised that an airline with 35 year old planes that’s $300 million in debt was able to provide us with a halfway decent meal on a 1.5 hour flight, when many full service carriers around the world don’t provide the same luxury on six hour flights. To be fair, they did try to get us to pay for petrol for the van to Victoria Falls, which we (not so) kindly declined to do…

  3. They had no qualified pilots? Did they make the same mistake as Global Ghana by hiring low altitude pilots to fly a 777 while they should have hired high altitude ones? Can’t blame them, it happens all the time.

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