Desmond Munemo, H-Metro Reporter
AIR ZIMBABWE look set to resume flights to London and China following the arrival of a B777-200ER aircraft from Malaysia yesterday.
Acting President, Constantino Chiwenga led officials in welcoming the bird at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport at midday and officials from the airline suggested the revival of the two popular long haul routes.
The aircraft is 15-years-old and had been grounded for almost five years after previous owner, Malaysia Airlines, retired its B777 fleet following the disappearance of its MH370 in 2014.
Air Zimbabwe operations manager, Tonderai Mukubvu, said the aircraft, which has a 282-passenger capacity is not designed for short routes and is unlikely to do local routes as it is designed to fly for six hours minimum.
Mukubvu believes the 120-tonne cargo capacity will facilitate trade and commerce in the country.
“The capacity of the cargo will be essential for Zimbabwe trade especially between China and other long route destinations such as London where a lot of locals are moving their consignments, raw materials and produce.”
“This aircraft is designed to operate on average of a minimum six to eight hours and it carries 282 passengers.
“We will most likely try to establish a hub and one area where we get volumes from people as far away considering the large capacity,” he said.
Mukubvu said the aircraft cost US$18.5million and another same model is expected to land by end of February this year.
“The aircraft was acquired from Malaysia Airline Systems and initially $18.5million was paid including other operational costs.
“We are yet to sit down and deliberate on the routes and other logistical issues but in a short time everything will be clear.
“We will also consider the routes and put in the competition aspect of certain routes,” said Mukubvu.