Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
Air Zimbabwe now has an operational agreement with Mack Air of Botswana, and is now sensitising the market ahead of service roll out.
Mack Air is a Botswana head-quartered privately-owned aviation firm, which entered into a deal with Airzim in July this year, targeting domestic and regional routes.
In an interview, Airzim’s corporate affairs manager Mr Tafadzwa Mazonde told The Herald: “We now have an operational agreement with Mack Air and since we just don’t want to plunge into a market, there are ongoing processes of market sensitisation, trying to create the hype so that when we start, we don’t start by operating on losses.
“We are hoping that by end of this year, all those things should be straightforward. But what I can tell you is that all the necessary stages are already underway; lodges, travel agencies, and we should be ready even earlier than 1 January, 2020.”
Some of the processes require engagements between the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB), given that Mack Air is registered in Botswana.
“Remember Mack Air is a Botswana registered company so there are also some reciprocal engagements which have to be done at civil aviation authority level.
“They have to go and inspect facilities, so that is what we are doing right now,” said Mr Mazonde.
Airzim and Mack Air announced the launch of the domestic and regional air service called “Flame Lily Hoppa”.
The agreement between the two airlines outlines an integrated and synergistic operational and commercial partnership.
The agreement included the launch of daily domestic scheduled air service between Victoria Falls, Harare and the major tourist destinations including Hwange, Kariba and Chiredzi.
Further, the agreement includes services to camps and lodges within the environs of the above-mentioned major tourism hubs on an anticipated per seat basis to service the lodge and camp clientele and drive additional tourism growth in the critical areas.
The agreement includes launching a daily regional scheduled air service between Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique.
Under the arrangement, flights will be operated using a blend of brand new Cessna Grand Caravan EX operated by Mack Air and Embraer 145 jet aircraft from Air Zimbabwe.
Airzim is presently sweating to start flying its Embraer 145ER due to challenges with accessing the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) manual.
The OEM will allow Air Zimbabwe access to live data on maintenance issues.
Mr Mazonde said Embraer had not “clarified” why Airzim cannot obtain the OEM.
“. . . they (Embraer) are doing what is known as the KYC (know-your-customer), just like the bank when you are opening an account, that is what they are currently doing.
“In terms of the aircraft having to fly and everything, it’s there.
“The fact that it flew to Harare without problems, for us is the first assurance that the aircraft is intact.
“Now for us to then access the OEM (is the problem). We need to access into their system like having an account created for Air Zimbabwe; that is the system which has delayed, but we are currently working on it,” said Mr Mazonde.
Ordinarily, Airzim should have obtained that OEM in two to three weeks after the arrival of the aircraft.
It is now thought that the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States could be hampering the process.