Come November, beleaguered Air Zimbabwe is set to change its name and acquire new aircraft in an effort to rebrand itself and restore confidence in its operations.
Zimbabwe’s transport minister, Jorum Gumbo, last week confirmed that the state-owned airline will be renamed Zimbabwe Airways and introduce new leased aircraft to coincide with the renaming of Harare International Airport to R. G. Mugabe International Airport on 9 November.
According to sources, it is widely expected that five long-haul planes, and potentially six smaller ones with a carrying capacity of 50 passengers, are expected to be launched next month.
The smaller aircraft will be leased from ECC Leasing, a Brazilian aircraft leasing company, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Embraer and will ply regional and international destinations such as Angola, DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Singapore.
According to local media reports, the Zimbabwean government wants to “freshen up” the operations of Air Zimbabwe, which has been plagued by inefficiencies resulting in a debt amounting to over US$334 million. The airline has been banned from flying the Harare-London route, while its former lucrative Harare-Johannesburg route is now rumoured to often carrying only a single passenger.