Air Zim Forking Out US$2 300 Per Hour

An official at the Johannesburg-based charter company told Radio Vop on Tuesday that it costs USD $ 2300 per hour for an airline company to lease a Boeing 737 aircraft.

“We charge USD$ 2300 per block hour to lease a Boeing 737 aircraft. The block hour applies to the time that the aircraft takes off and lands only,” said Janny November, a leasing officer at Air Quarius where Air Zimbabwe hired leased a plane to try and service its stranded passengers who were booked on its flights.

The airline flies to Zambia, DRC, Kenya,South Africa, China, London and locally to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. But the leased aircraft is only servicing the Harare- Johannesburg/Harare-Bulawayo- Victoria Falls route.

Air Zimbabwe has since suspended all international flights.

Its contigent of 44 pilots went on strike last week to press management to pay outstanding salaries and allowances accrued over a period of 22 months, grounding all its planes.

The company already reeling from poor business and saddled with enormous debts, was forced to lease the aircraft from South African company after pilots abandoned planes on the tarmac.

Company executives last Thursday threatened the pilots with arrest if they did not return to work within 24 hours.

However the pilots stuck to their guns. They could be seen last Friday afternoon playing golf at the Falcon Golf Club along Airport road.

Meanwhile the Air Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer, Peter Chikumba told Radio VOP paper that pilots were still on strike until a solution on how they were going to be paid was found.

“The pilots are still on strike and we are still negotiating,” said Chikumba.

Meawhile passengers could be seen Tuesday jostling to get onto the overbooked hired flight to Johannesburg. On the other side of the airport the Air Zimbabwe planes could also been seen parked.

Meanwhile the chairperson of the national airline, Jonathan Kadzura has told the pilots that they should consider themselves fired for not heeding his call last week to return to work within 24 hours.

However, some analysts said on Tuesday Zimbabwe did not have enough skills to replace the striking pilots if they were to be fired.