|Founded||1 September 1967
(as Air Rhodesia Corporation)|
|Commenced operations||2 April 1980|
|Ceased operations||24 February 2012|
|Frequent-flyer program||Rainbow Club|
|Company slogan||Zimbabwean hospitality in the skies|
|Parent company||Air Zimbabwe Holdings|
|Headquarters||Harare International Airport
Air Zimbabwe was the national airline of Zimbabwe, headquartered on the property of Harare International Airport, in Harare. From its hub at Harare International Airport, the carrier operated a network within southern Africa that also included Asia and London-Gatwick. The company was a member of the International Air Transport Association, and of the African Airlines Association since 1981. It was 100%-owned by the Government of Zimbabwe. Following financial difficulties, Air Zimbabwe ceased operations in late February 2012 .
The entity that eventually became Air Zimbabwe formally came into being on 1 September 1967, when the Government of Rhodesia created Air Rhodesia Corporation to succeed Air Rhodesia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Central African Airways Corporation (CAAC) that had existed since 1964 as a domestic airline within Rhodesia. Air Rhodesia inherited CAAC operations following its dissolution at the end of 1967. It became the short-lived Air Zimbabwe Rhodesia in 1978, and finally Air Zimbabwe in April 1980 when the Republic of Zimbabwe was formed. The carrier began scheduled services on 2 April 1980 to London-Gatwick.
Two Viscount 800s were purchased from Dan-Air in the early 1980s, in order to replace the Viscount 700s inherited from Air Rhodesia that were near the end of their life and also rendered too small for some services; these aircraft flew for the company until their retirement in 1989.[additional citation needed] [ , an agreement for the purchase of three Boeing 707-320B was signed with citation needed]
In May 1982Affretair to merge their operations; the freighter company was eventually taken over by Air Zimbabwe in July 1983 . In July 1982 , services to Athens were inaugurated, and a weekly joint service with Qantas to Perth and Sydney was started in November that year, using Qantas aircraft.the Government directed Air Zimbabwe and the national freighter airline
It was decided in September 1982livery. A new decor was designed, using green, gold, crimson and black stripes in a stepped pattern on the fuselage sides and extending halfway up the vertical fin together with a new, more recognisable Zimbabwe bird, superimposed on a red star.that the fleet should be repainted in the national colours to replace the former Air Rhodesia
In 2003, it was reported that the carrier had been struggling financially and at the mercy of local and international banks. In February 2004 , it was revealed that the company had been temporarily suspended by International Air Transport Association (IATA) over unpaid debts. A foreign exchange crisis in the country led to the cancellation of the carrier's operations in late 2005, following the lack of hard currency to pay for the fuel.
It was disclosed in 2006 that passenger numbers had fallen from 1 million in 1999 to 23,000 in 2005. Acting chief executive Captain Oscar Madombwe blamed the decline on negative publicity about the political and economic situation in the country, safety concerns among travellers —which he said were unjustified because the airline had an impeccable safety record—, and shortages of hard currency, new equipment and fuel. In late October 2006 , the prices of Air Zimbabwe tickets increased up to 500%, partly due to the inflation in the country rising to over 1,000% —at that time the Zimbabwean Central Bank stated that it could not continue supporting Air Zimbabwe and other money-losing state companies—, and partly because the airline was in need of foreign currency to pay for fuel, spare parts, and catering.
In May 2011 It was announced in early November 2011 that the government would absorb a US$140 million debt in order to make the company more attractive to foreign investors. Already in December 2011 , the carrier struggled to provide its regional and overseas services amid aircraft impoundments over unpaid debts., the airline was suspended from the international financial and booking system by IATA over unpaid booking fees.
In January 2012 Following a failed revival attempt, in which the pilots refused to resume domestic services over US$35 million in unpaid salaries and allowances, Air Zimbabwe was grounded indefinitely on 24 February 2012., the airline came under judicial management.
A Harare–Beijing service was launched in November 2004 , following an increase of the Chinese–Zimbabwean economical ties. Likewise, the carrier added Kuala Lumpur to its network in 2009. A capacity boost was disclosed to occur on the Harare–London-Gatwick route effective 1 April 2011. The Harare–London route was once served by both British Airways and Air Zimbabwe; it had become one of the most lucrative routes for Air Zimbabwe since British Airways discontinued the service in 2007.
It was informed in February 2011 that the airline temporarily suspended its flights to Johannesburg over likely impoundments of its planes by creditors due to unpaid debts. Regional and domestic services were suspended for a short period in May 2011, following both the grounding of its Boeing 737-200 fleet by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) over maintenance concerns, and the impoundment of a leased aircraft from Zambezi Airlines over a U$S 460,000 unpaid debt. Operations resumed in late May 2011 , following an agreement between the two airlines, yet the aircraft was repossessed by its owner in late June 2011 .
In mid-June 2011South Africa were temporarily suspended because of a due debt with fuel suppliers. Owing both to the grounding of the 737-200 fleet and to fuel shortages in the country, domestic services were suspended and regional flights were operated on an irregular basis. The airline started regularising medium– and short–haul operations in July 2011 , as it got clearance from the CAAZ to operate one of its three grounded 737-200., flights to London and
Operations were discontinued again in late July 2011 Once again, overseas and domestic flights were temporarily cancelled in early November 2011 , this time owing to an unpaid debt with fuel providers. Overseas routes resumed on 11 November. However, flights to the United Kingdom and South Africa were suspended in January 2012 over likely impoundments of the airline's aircraft for outstanding debts., this time due to a pilots strike, resuming in mid-September after a 50-day-long strike.
Following is a list of destinations Air Zimbabwe flew to throughout its history, as part of its scheduled services.
|Botswana||Gaborone||GBE||FBSK||Sir Seretse Khama International Airport||:887|
|China||Beijing||PEK||ZBAA||Beijing Capital International Airport|||
|Cyprus||Larnaca||LCA||LCLK||Larnaca International Airport|||
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||Kinshasa||FIH||FZAA||N'djili Airport|||
|Lubumbashi||FBM||FZQA||Lubumbashi International Airport|||
|Mbuji-Mayi||MJM||FZWA||Mbuji Mayi Airport|||
|Greece||Athens||ATH||LGAT||Hellinikon International Airport||:887|
|Kenya||Nairobi||NBO||HKJK||Jomo Kenyatta International Airport||:887|
|Malawi||Blantyre||BLZ||FWCL||Chileka International Airport||:887|
|Lilongwe||LLW||FWKI||Lilongwe International Airport|||
|Mozambique||Maputo||MPM||FQMA||Maputo International Airport|||
|Mauritius||Mauritius||MRU||FIMP||Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport|||
|Malaysia||Kuala Lumpur||KUL||WMKK||Kuala Lumpur International Airport|||
|Namibia||Windhoek||WDH||FYWH||Windhoek Hosea Kutako International Airport|||
|Singapore||Singapore||SIN||WSSS||Singapore Changi Airport|||
|South Africa||Durban||DUR||FADN||Durban International Airport||:887|
|Johannesburg||JNB||FAJS||OR Tambo International Airport|||
|Tanzania||Dar es Salaam||DAR||HTDA||Julius Nyerere International Airport|||
|United Arab Emirates||Dubai||DXB||OMDB||Dubai International Airport|||
|United Kingdom||London||LGW||EGKK||Gatwick Airport|||
|Zambia||Lusaka||LUN||FLLS||Lusaka International Airport|||
|Zimbabwe||Bulawayo||BUQ||FVBU||Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport|||
|Chiredzi||BFO||FVCZ||Buffalo Range Airport|||
|Gweru||GWE||FVTL||Gweru-Thornhill Air Base|||
|Harare||HRE||FVHA||Harare International Airport †|||
|Hwange National Park||HWN||FVWN||Hwange National Park Airport||:887|
|Victoria Falls||VFA||FVFA||Victoria Falls Airport|||
The initial fleet of five Boeing 707s sourced from Lufthansa replaced the Boeing 720 aircraft used by Air Rhodesia. These 707s joined the Vickers Viscount fleet, that was strengthened by the addition of two Viscounts 810s from Dan Air. The airline saw the incorporation of the Boeing 737-200 into its fleet in 1985. Three Boeing 737 aircraft were ordered from Boeing in the mid 1980s to enhance regional routes.
Long haul operations that were once operated with the 707s were gradually shifted to the newly acquired Boeing 767-200ER equipment; the first of them entered the fleet in late 1989. A British Aerospace BAe 146 was added to the fleet from the Zimbabwean Air force in the eighties. Leased Fokker 50s were used from 1995 but proved unsuitable to the hot and high conditions and were returned to the lessor. The BAe 146 had been subsequently grounded.
In 2005 the airline leased two MA-60 turboprops from China, which were later supplemented by a third donated example in 2006, to operate domestic and short regional routes.
It was announced in 2006 that the Zimbabwean Government had ordered 5 Ilyushin Il-96s aircraft (2 passenger and 3 freighter versions) from Russia, in order to replace the company's ageing Boeing 767 long-haul fleet. After talks with Russian authorities, the order was cancelled. Likewise, in late 2010 the airline announced it had ordered two Airbus A340-500s to serve both the Harare–Beijing and the Harare–London routes; the order was later cancelled after the company failed to raise the money.
In late June 2011 as it was unable to afford the costs of its leasing. The aircraft was mainly used to operate the Harare–Johannesburg route; it was disclosed the company had to fly the route using one of their Boeing 767s., Air Zimbabwe was forced to return the Boeing 737-500 it was hiring from Zambezi Airlines to partially compensate the lack of equipment following the grounding of its Boeing 737-200 fleet,
Despite versions for the acquisition of new aircraft were officially declined in July 2011 owing to a precarious cash position, it was disclosed that the airline bought an Airbus A340-500 and an Airbus A320, both new, in August 2011. As of January 2012[update], there exists discrepant versions over the acquisition of new Airbuses, since the secretary of the Zimbabwean Ministry of Transport has denied the transaction, but some third-party sources have records for the delivery of an A320 to the company.
The airline operated the following equipment throughout its history:
In June 1999 the Chicago Tribune published a story in which the reporter Gaby Plattner claimed she had flown from Kariba to Hwange on an Air Zimbabwe service, and that the flight departed without a co-pilot, who did not arrive on time for unexplained reasons. It was claimed that during the flight the pilot went to the bathroom, held the cockpit door open with a rubber band, that the aircraft encountered turbulence on its flightpath and the rubber band snapped loose, and that the door eventually got closed and locked the pilot out of the cockpit. The article also claimed that the pilot had to use an axe to chop down the door. The newspaper later stated that this story was untrue.
According to Aviation Safety Network, the company did not have accidents involving fatalities since Air Rhodesia was renamed Air Zimbabwe in 1980. The only hull-loss accident the airline went through is listed below.
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