Air Zimbabwe, Aviation, Airliners, Airlines of Africa Encyclopedia
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Updated 7th July, 2018
Government Considering Merging Air Zim, Air Zim Airwys
To End Tension.
Harare - Aviation : The new Boeing 777-200 bought for a new Zimbabwe
any with state funds has returned to Malaysia without making a single flight.
The purchase of the plane and three others from Malaysian Airways was negotiated by
former president Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law, Simba Chikore, previously a pilot with
Air Zimbabwe and Qartar Airways, who failed his practical test for promotion to the
rank of captain. There were no Zimbabwean pilots qualified to fly the new aircraft, nor
ground crew to service them.
The national carrier Air Zimbabwe was not chosen to take on the new planes, not least
because it was bankrupt.
They don’t say who owns Zim Airways, but it’s believed govt owns the company
Minister of Finance and Economic Development,Cde Patrick Chinamasa, who received
the plane at the Robert Mugabe International Airport, said the deal was kept a closely
secret as the country was under sanctions which could have endangered the
Speaking at the same occasion,the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development,
Dr Joram Ggumbo said the planes belong to the nation and not the former first family as
previously said insome sections of the media. So far, the country has paid $41 million for
the planes with a balance of $29 million remaining.
The official documents also state that the acquisition of the fleet intends “to provide in-
creased trade and tourism facilitation, improved customer satisfaction and improved airline
viability.” In a
recent interview with the Independent, Gumbo said his ministry is seized
with turning around the Air Zimbabwe fortunes. “I inherited a national airliner which had
legacy debts and grounded equipment.
All efforts are now being made to service local routes, as we seek more equipment for the
long haul routes,” Mr Gumbo said.
In 1973 Air Rhodesia obtained 3 no Boeng 720-025. Here seen the Boeing 720-025 cn 1862, VP-YNL "Manicland".
at Salisburry Airpor. All aircrafts were ex Eastern Airlines airframes.
Air Rhodesia was originally founded in 1963 and started operations with two Douglas DC-3, Dakotas and served on the
domestic routes to Kariba, Victoria Falls, Gwelo and Fort Victoria from Salisburg (Harare). The Central African
Airways (CAA) Vickers Viscounts operated all regional services and BOAC operated the international service to London.
Air Rhodesia Douglas DC-3, YP-WCC and VP-YKP.
Air Rhodesia Vickers Viscount 745D, VP-YTE 1969 still in Vickers original delivery livery. Here seen at Bulawayo Airport.
Photo: African Airliners collection.
When the increasingly strained political situation caused the break up of CAA 1967 and later when the Dakotas were with-
drawn from the fleet and transferred to the Rhodesian Air Force, Air Rhodesia became a major Vickers Viscount operator.
In 1973 three Boeing 720-025 were obtained from Jet Aviation, Basel in Switzerland. All aircrafts were ex. Eastern Air
Lines. These aircrafts were operated on all regional services to Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa for the
of the Airline's life.
VP-YNL c/n 18162 "Manicaland"
VP-YNM c/n 18242 "Matabeleland"
VP-YNN c/n 18244 "Mashonaland"
AIR ZIMBABWE (UM)
During 1979 Air Rhodesia was renamed to Air Zimbabwe Rhodesia and when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe in 1980 and
the airline became Air Zimbabwe.
Air Zimbabwe, Boeing 707-330B, Z-WKR at London/Gatwick, May 1984
Photo: Richard Vandervord
Air Zimbabwe, , Z-WJI at Kariba Dam, 1984
Photo: Leif Hellström
Here seen Air Zimbabwe in its new livery (from 1982) the Boeing 707-330B, Z-WKR at London Gatwick, July 1995
Photo: Richard Vandervord
During early 1980 the Air Zimbabwe Boeing 720 fleet was phased out and renewed by four Boeing 707-330B. The two
last Vickers Viscount
810-serie were purchased from DAN-Air, UK.
It was decided in Sept. 1982 that the fleet should be repainted in the national colours to replace the former Air Rhodesia
livery. 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. Long-haul operations that were once operated with the 707s were gradually shifted to the newly acquired Boeing
By March 1985, Air Zimbabwe had 1,443 employees and the fleet comprised five Boeing 707-320Bs and seven Viscount
700s and 1,443 employees. At this time, the airline flew domestic services linking Harare with Buffalo Range, Bulawayo,
Gweru, Hwange National Park, Kariba, Masvingo and Victoria Falls, regional services to Blantyre, Durban, Gaborone,
Johannesburg,Lusaka and Nairobi, and intercontinental flights to Athens, Frankfurt and London.
Air Zimbawe had at this time the oldest fleet out of 22 African countries. Its 13 aircrafts had an averge of 21 years, while
the overall Africans average age was 14.2 years. To improve its operational capacity, the airline realized that it was time
to negotiate for purchasing modern aircrafts, which were more fuel-efficient and cheaper to run
The airline saw the incorporation of the Boeing 737-200 into the fleet in 1985. Three Boeing 737 aircraft were ordered
from Boeing in the mid-1980s to enhance regional routes. The new Boeing 737s should replace the ageing Boeing 720 air-
crafts. A Boeing 737-200 was also leased on a short contract from Maersk
while waiting for the ordered Boeing 737-200s.
Air Zimbawe´s first Boeing 737-200/adv Z-WPA was delivered in December 1986 followed by Z-WPB and Z-WPC
in June/July 1987. Z-WPA was leased twice to both Air Uganda 1993-1998 and to Linheas Ae´ras de Mocambiqu
Photo: * * *
The Vickers 754D Viscount c/n 243, Z-YTE.
Photo: * * *
One of the new Boeing 767-20N/ER, Z-WPE msn 24713
Photo: * * *
For international routes, Air Zimbawe acquired two hightechnology, wide-bodied 767-200 Extended Range jets in 1989
and 1990. By the end of 1990, therefore, the airline's fleet consisted of modern and costefficient aircraft, including
B737s, B767-200 ERs and one BAe aeroplane.4 A vigorous effort to modernize and expand the fleet was therefore a
central part of Air Zimbawe's strategy to maximize the available opportunities during the first decade of independence.
Two Fokker 50´s, Z-WPG and Z-WPH were delivered in early 1995 on a 10-years intended lease, but unfortunately these
aircrafts were incapable of serving the "hot and high-destinations" with adequate payloads and were returned to the lessor.
Fokker 50, Z-WPH, c/n 20105 at Victoria Falls Airport. Photo: Rolf Wallner
BAe-146, Z-WPD, c/n E2065 1988. Photo: Bill Hough
A singel aircraft of the type BAe-146, registrated Z-WPD was ordered and delivered in January 1988 to the Ministry of De-
fence as a VIP aircraft. Due to the decided withdraw of the last Viscounts and due to lack of funds to extend the short runway
at i.e. Kariba, the Government had to solve this upcoming situation by useing the ordered BAe-146 which was suitable for
short take-off and landings. The BAe-146 is currently parked due to fuel shortage and the collapse of
resulting from domestic political condition whithin the country.
In 1997 Air Zimbabwe was privatised and the initial fleet of four Boeing 707-330Band two Vickers Viscounts were
out and replaced by two Boeing 767-200ER and three Boeing 737-200 Adv. The Boeing 737 operates on domestic and reg-
ional routes while the Boeing 767 operates on
international routes to London/Gatwick and Frankfurt.
Boeing 767-2NO/ER cn 24867, Z-WPF, Photo: Eddy Cuperus
Fleet 1977 - 2013
B737-2NO/ADV Z-WPA cn 23677
B737-2NO/ADV Z-WPB cn 23678
B737-2NO/ADV Z-WPC cn 23679
B767-2NO/ER Z-WPE cn 24713
B767-2NO/ER Z-WPF cn 24867
BAe-146 Z-WPD, cn E2065
Fokker F50 Friendship Z-WPG cn 20104
Fokker F50 Friendship Z-WPH cn 20105
Fokker F28 Fellowship ZS-DRF cn 11220
[never entered service]
Vickers 748D Viscount Z-YNA cn 98
Vickers 748D Viscount Z-YNB cn 99
Vickers 748D Viscount Z-YNC cn 100
Vickers 754D Viscount Z-WJI cn 241
Vickers 754D Viscoutn Z-YTE cn 243
Vickers 782D Viscount Z-WAT cn 298
Xian MA 60 Z-WPJ cn 0302
Xian MA 60 Z-WPK cn 0303
Xian MA 60 Z-WPL cn 0304
In 2003, it was reported that the carrier was now struggling financially and at the mercy of local and international
banks. This caused that 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 the carrier's operations in late 2005, following the lack of hard currency to pay for the fuel.
For a number of years, economic problems are starting to rise and Air Zimbabwe already has an aircraft fleet that
has to be maintained in accordance with the current International Airline Rules.
Air Zimbabwe leased one of its two Boeing 767 aircraft to Ghana Airways after losing its market share to competi-
An official at Ghana Airways offices in Accra said the Air Zimbabwe aircraft had been hired due to over-
This Air Zimbabwe B-767-2NO/ER Z-WPE was leased to Ghana Airways to boost the airlines fleet.
Air Zimbabwe had been suspended from the International Air Travel Association earlier this year after failing to
meet the ITAA standards. Air Zimbabwe revealed that the national airline had lost nearly all the routes it used to
ply to other airlines, especially South African Airways (SAA.
Zimbabwe was stalked by erratic fuel supplies for the past six years, but the shortages became acute in March. The
country did´nthave the hard currency needed to pay for fuel and other imports, such as medicines and electrical power.
Air Zimbabwe strugled to maintain its small fleet of Boeing aircraft. Several flights were cancelled in July, partly
because of a lack of spare parts for the planes.
For the first time in its 25-year history, Air Zimbabwe had to cancel flights to every destination in November this
year. The entire fleet was grounded after running out of aviation fuel. All seven of its aircraft sat on the apron at
Harare airport "until further notice". Hundreds of angry passengers thronged the check-in desks at Harare, although
some flights did resume after more than 24 hours on the ground.
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.
Air Zimbabwe Xian MA-60 cn 0303, Z-WPK at Johanesburg, OR Tambo International Airport, September 29, 2010.
Photo: Richard Vandervord
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.
In April 2006, it was announced that the Zimbabwean Government would order five Ilyushin Il-96s aircrafts:two passenger
and three freighter version - 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
340-500s to serve both the Harare–Beijing and the Harare–London routes; the order was later cancelled after the company
failed to raise the money.
Leased 2010 Fokker F28-4000 ZS-DRF. A short lease from Branson Air SA with titles only, Photo: Don Hewins
It was revealed in February 2011 that the airline temporarily suspended its flights to Johannesburg over likely impound-
ments 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 US$460,000
unpaid debt. Operations resumed in late May 2011, following an agreement between the two airlines, yet the aircraft was
repossessed by the owner in late June 2011.
In mid-June 2011, flights to London and South 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 the domestic services were suspended.
Unfortunately Air Zimbabwe was forzed in late June to return the Boeing 737-500 to the lessor due to it was unable to
afford the costs. In July the airline started regularising medium- and short-haul operations as it got clearance from the
CAAZ to operate one of its three grounded 737-200 and one of the two Boeing 767-200s.
Despite versions for the acquisition of new aircrafts were officially declined in July 2011 owing to a precarious cash position,
it was disclosed that the airline had sign a "letter of intent" to buy an Airbus A340-500 and an Airbus A320, both new, in
Air Zimbabwe suspended its Gatwick services in late 2011 when one of its two B767-200(ER)s was impounded by Ameri-
can General Suppliers over USD1.2million in outstanding debts.
In January 2012, the airline came under judicial management. Following a failed revival attempt, in which the pilots refused
to resume domestic services over US$35 million in unpaid salaries and allowances,
This led to that Air Zimbabwe ceased
operations in late February.
As an atempt to solve the hugh ecconomical situation, the government of Zimbabwe established Air Zimbabwe Private Limi-
ted in March as the new owner of the carrier after disbanding the airline's former parastatal owner Air Zimbabwe Holdings
and absorbing a US$150 million debt.
Since March 2012 the airline has been operated through Air Zimbabwe Private Limited, which now was wholly owned by
the Zimbabwe Government, although there have long been plans to privatise the airline in some degree. The airline resumed
flying on a continuous basis in early May 2012, yet using
a single aircraft (Boeing 737-200) and serving only three
domestic destinations to Bulawayo, Harare and Victoria Fall and only for a short
period of time until the grounding of
the aircraft on 2 July 2012. The airline was reactivated in late November 2012,
a reduced flight scheme serving the Harare–
Johannesburg route. Reports indicated the carrier resumed domestic operations connecting Bulawayo, Harare and Victoria
Falls, as well as the regional route to Johannesburg, on a daily basis in April 2013, ahead of the 2013 Zimbabwe Inter-
national Trade Fair.
In January 2012, there had been discrepant versions over the acquisition of new Airbuses, since the secretary of the Zim-
babwean Ministry of Transport has denied the transaction, but there exist records for the delivery of one Airbus A340 and
two A320 to the company.
According to Air Zimbabwe the current fleet complement comprised of two B767s, one is operational, the seccond is under-
going heavey service at a cost of USD 400´00. The fleet also consists of three Boeing 737s with only one in service and
three MA-60 (status unknown).
The airline had been under pressure to renew and expand its fleet in the face of growing competition. The airline has resorted
to lease aircrafts to service some of its routes from time to time.
In 27 Mar Air Zimbabwe took delivery of an Airbus A320. “This plane will be plying our Johannesburg route.” said spokesman
for Air Zimbabwe, Shingai Taruvinga
In 28 Mars Air Zimbabwe leased a fifty seater Embraer jet on a wet-lease basis from Solenta SA, to use on its Harare-
Bulawayo-Vic Fall-Harare route.
To boost the airline´s only Boeing 737-200 that had resumed operation last July 2012, the government was forced to lease
two 150-seater Airbus A320-200 from China Sonangol at $200,000 per month per plane. The first of the two Airbuses
A320 deployed in January and the seccond aircraft started to operate in May on the Harare-Johannesburg and replaced the
Air Zimbawe Embraer ERJ-145 ZS-BBH msn 145607.
Photo: Paul Denton
Another scandal hit the Zimbabwean national when carrier wet-leased an ERJ-145 from Solenta, SA from June 2013. The
lease of the Brazil-manufactured Embraer ERJ 145 LR 50-seat jet was for an initial period of six months that has since
expired, but AirZimbawe continued to operete the aircraft until June 2014. According to carrier, the decision to enter into
an agreement with Solenta was made on the basis that it was more economical to operrate an ERJ-145 jet on domestic
flights primarily instead to operate their much bigger Boeing 737 and 767 which are costly to run with a low cabin factor.
The government was probing Air Zimbabwe's leasing of an Embraer 50-seat plane, amid fears the embattled airline has lost
millions of dollars through a huge fixed monthly rental of $204 000 for the jet. Sources said that the airline tried in vain to
lease directly the planes from their manufacturers because of sanctions against the country.Other sources said the similar
jet could be hired for between $80 000 and $120 000 monthly.
For this tender deal Air Zimbabwe had to paid over $3 million and is still now owing about $800 000, which adds up to
about $4 million. That is enough to cover a quarter of the price of a "new Embraer."
The cancellation of the lease with Solenta — whose managing director is from Zimbabwe — hit Air Zimbabwe hard and
forced the struggling airline to dramatically increase its fares because of using their bigger planes, Boeings 767 and 737,
which was more expensive to run and maintain. They also guzzled fuel.
Air Zimbabwe in ist new livery: Boeing 767-200 ER and Airbus A320-214.
Photo: Jetphotos Net and Propfreak Phograpy.
Due to that the the lessor did not clarified in the contract that the time was running out for the two Airbuses in the near
future Air Zimbabwe's two A320-200´s were grounded erlier than the governmnt realized and had to be flewn to OR
Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, to undergo heavy "C-Checks" since Air Zimbabwe didn't
have the own capacity to service them at their own maintenance unit in Harare. Except the "C-Check" it occured that one
of the aircrafts had a serious landing-gear problem.
Grounding of the Airbuses led to that the carrier had at this time only two aircrafts left in the operational service of the
important Harare-Johannesburg route and also for the domestic market. The only two remaining aircarfts were their own
Boeing 737 and a leased Embraer ERJ 145 jet.
The third functional plane was a Boeing 767 which was usually used when the 737 was down or when President Robert
Mugabe was travelling outside the country. The three MA60's acquired from China a couple of years ago have also
remained in the hangars as their potential to get back to the skies has been ruled out. Z-WPJ was WFU (Withdrawn From
Use) after it collided with warthogs on Harare International Airport 3rd November, 2009. The aircraft veered off the run-
way into bushes and two of the 34 passengers sustained minor injuries. The plane was extensively damaged. None of the
four-crew members on board was injured
Air Zimbabwe was also mired in controversy after it was revealed that the country's former transport minister, brokered a
deal for the airline's now grounded A320-200s from Chinese businessman, Mr Sam Pa, after Mr Pa reportedly donated
USD100 million to the country's much-feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
The former transport minister worked with the director general of the CIO, in structuring the dealwith Mr Pa without the
knowledge of the airline's now dissolved board.
Mr Pa was no stranger to the African aviation scene. In 2010, Mr Pa and his "88 Queensway Group", a body of compa-
nies that includes the China International Fund (CIF) and China Sonangol International Holding, were lined up for a
49% stake in Air Tanzania only for the deal to collapse under murky circumstances. For a brief period, Air Tanzania ope-
rated an A320-200 which was since transferred to Air Zimbabwe as Z-WPM (cn 630).
Airbus A320-214, Z-WPN cn 1973
B737-200Adv Z-WPA cn 23677
B767-200 ER, Z-WPF cn 24867 [Presidential plane]
Air Zimbawe is targeting $80 million revenue for 2015 from the $32 million in 2014 as the national airliner begins the
inplementatio of its four-years strategi. Despite the current strategies, Air Zimbabwe, however requires $260 milion to
recapitalize as debt continus to blight the airline´s turn arrond strategi.
The airline is currently flying three of its fleet of 10 aircrafts and hopes to have the two of Airbus A320s serviced in
South Africa by South African Airways.
In Juny Air Zimbabwe announced today that they were resuming flights between Harare and Lusaka from the 22nd of
June 2.The route should be served by a 50- seater MA60 which had been gathering dust.
Air Zimbabwe MA-60 Z-WPK (the only of MA-60 in operation)
On 14 the November 2015, two Zimbabwean female pilots made history when they became
the first all woman team to fly from Harare to Victoria Falls.
All Women 737 Flight Deck Crew, Captain Chipo Matimba and Captain Elizabeth Simbi Petros on a flight UM 322 from
Harare to Victoria Falls!
Here seen Air Zimbabwe´s A320 Z-WPN undergoing heavy "C-Check" in South African Airways hanger.
On june 6 Air Zimbabwe inaugural flight took of from Harare to Dar es Salaam.
Flight UM438, will operated with an Air-
bus A320, will serve the new route three times a week.
Air Zimbabwe’s newly appointed chief executive says the airline needs to pay up creditors to avoid risk of having its
planes impounded in foreign countries. The national airline has continued to struggle, incurring consecutive losses and
relying on treasury for support. It currently has a debt of $330 million.
In June Air Zimbabwe made their plans to resume London flights public. The airline stated that they have
rights to resume flights and are awaiting the UK's approval. “Operating equipment and the crew are already in
place. Once the route licence has been issued, we will be ready to commence operations,” said Marketing Manager. The
airline has slowly been clearing debts and resuming some of the routes they had to terminate in 2012. They are currently
in negotiations to clear a US$2.8m debt owed to the UK air navigation agency.
Air Zimbawe Boeing 737-20NO/adv Z-WPA last seen in July 2016.
Photo: Yang Xiao
Air Zimbawe Boeing 767-2NO/ER Z-WPF last seen February 2017.
Photo: Sin Wen Hao
Air Zimbawe Airbus A320-211 Z-WPN last seen March 2017.
Photo: Timoty Brandt
Air Zimbawe Xian MA 60 Z-WPK c 2016.
Photo: Gart Calitz
Airbus A320-214, Z-WPN, cn 630
B737-200Adv Z-WPA cn 23677
B767-200 ER, Z-WPF cn24867
Xian MA 60 Z-WPK cn0303
In early 2017 Air Zimbabwe forced to hire planes to serve its routes as foreign currency shortages are delaying the acqui-
sition of spare parts for its grounded fleet. This has resulted in long flight delays and cancellations in the past week.
Officials at the airline have said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was delaying releasing foreign currency to purchase spare
parts needed for maintenance work. Sources at Air Zimbabwe said they were using one plane for all regular flights,
Harare-Bulawayo, Johannesburg-Harare, Harare-Victoria Falls and Bulawayo-Harare.
13th April: Air Zimbabwe saddled with debts exceeding $330 million, has plunged deeperinto crisis after its entire aircraft
fleet was grounded due to mechanical problems and the failure by the cash-strapped government to provide funds for vital
spare parts. As the country grapples with a severe economic crisis, Air Zimbabwe has struggled to procure vital spare parts
and to pay for mandatory aircraft maintenance checks.
On Tuesday, all five planes were declared un-airworthy, forcing the flag carrier to hire an aircraft from neighbouring South
Africa as managers sought to fulfil some of the scheduled flights.
The failure on Tuesday to take to the skies was unprecedented in the history of Air Zimbabwe, a company which boasted
18 aircraft at the country’s independence in 1980. Economic commentators say decades of mismanagement and corruption
have taken a severe toll.
In recent weeks, South African Airways has deployed a bigger aircraft on the lucrative Johannesburg-Victoria Falls route.
Ethiopian Airlines, Rwanda’s RwandAir and the local budget carrier Rainbow Airlines have introduced flights, filling the
vacuum left by Air Zimbabwe. Fastjet, Africa’s largest budget airline, last week increased the number of flights on the
Harare-Victoria Falls route. Kenya Airways has also announced their interest to enter the market.
However, foreign airlines are discovering that the Zimbabwean aviation market is fraught with immense difficulties.
Is this the final countdown for Air Zimbawe.
Harare International Airport. (IATA: HRE, ICAO: FVHA).
B767-200 ER, Z-WPE cn 24713 [The Presidential plane].
This site is not sponsored by Air Zimbawe!
Eddy Cuperus, Airliners Net
Carl Ford, Airliners Net
Bill Hough, Auctiontransport.com
Leif Hammarström, Airliners Net
Richard Vandervord, Airliners Net
SKYLINERS aviation news&more,
Rolf Wallner, Airliners Net
Sam Chui, Airliners Net
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