Walter Muchinguri Assistant Business Editor
The national airline, Air Zimbabwe will resume flights between Harare and Lusaka as it seeks to increase its route network.
Air Zimbabwe will start flying between Harare and Lusaka three times (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) a week from June 22.
Acting chief executive Mr Edmund Makona said that they will initially be using the 50- seater MA60 to penetrate the Zambian market and will upgrade their equipment to the Airbus A320 depending on the improvement in traffic on the route.
The MA60 is currently servicing the Harare-Kariba route, which was re-established in September last year.
“The idea behind using the MA60 for both the Kariba and Lusaka routes is that we want to sweat our assets. We cannot afford to keep our aeroplanes on the ground,” he said.
Mr Makona said that they had been motivated to re-establish the Harare-Lusaka route because it used to be one of the airline’s lucrative routes and also because of the strong ties that exist between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“Beyond the Harare-Johannesburg route, the Harare-Lusaka route used to be the second most lucrative route for Air Zimbabwe,” he said.
Commenting on competition on the route, Mr Makona said that they are unfazed by increased competition that exist on the route and that they have strategies in place to deal with the competition.
There are currently three airlines that are also plying the Harare-Lusaka route, Emirates Airlines, Kenya Airways and Namibian Airlines.
Emirates incorporated the route when it established flights between Harare and Dubai in 2012, while Kenya Airways incorporated the route as part of it Nairobi-London route.
“We are aware that there are competitors coming in from beyond the two countries’ borders but we are confident of the strategies that we have in place,” he said.
The development comes as Air Zimbabwe is beefing up its fleet in preparation for the re-establishment of more regional routes.
The airline recently received one of two Airbus A320s that had been undergoing mandatory safety checks in South Africa.
The A320 is a fully automated fly-by-wire modern aircraft with a carrying capacity of 160 passengers.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu recently indicated that Government has received some positive responses from airlines that want to partner Air Zimbabwe.
This follows Cabinet’s approval of the engagement of a strategic partner for the national airline as part of its turnaround strategy.