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Air Zimbabwe dusts off its B737-200s, MA-60s

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Air Zimbabwe (UM, Harare Int'l) has reactivated a mothballed B737-200Adv., Z-WPB (msn 23678), and plans to return one of its three MA-60 turboprops to revenue service in the short term.

In an interview with Routes Online, Air Zimbabwe's General Manager - Passengers & Cargo, Peter Mukarkate, said the struggling carrier had also completed a market and capacity analysis which revealed that Air Zimbabwe requires 70-seater aircraft to cover its domestic routes - Harare Int'l,Victoria Falls, and Bulawayo - and a 90- to 100-seater for regional operations to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo.

“The problem we have is the 737-200 offers too much capacity in our domestic market linking Bulawayo and Victoria Falls with Harare. It is the same story with our daily international flight from Harare to Johannesburg with the B767-200ER too large for this route,” he said.

Among the manufacturers the Zimbabweans have considered are Bombardier (BBA, Montréal Trudeau) and Embraer (São José dos Campos) with the Brazilians said to be frontrunners. Air Zimbabwe had leased two ERJ-145s from South African ACMI firm, Solenta Aviation (SL, Lanseria), until the contract's conclusion in March this year. The airline subsequently issued its own RFP (Request For Proposals) for aircraft of the same type in April.

Air Zimbabwe's two A320-200s, whose lease agreements have been a source of much speculation in the Zimbabwean press given their unclear ownership, are still grounded in Johannesburg O.R. Tambo awaiting critical maintenance and repair. The two Airbus Industrie (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) machines were touted as replacements for the airline's fleet of B737s.

On the international front, Air Zimbabwe has yet to set an exact date as to when it will resume longhaul operations.

While the carrier has stated its first international longhaul destination would be London Gatwick, it is understood various outstanding debts - owed to, among others, ground-handling companies and air traffic control entities - would first have to be settled before flights there can resume.


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