CAAZ Licences Third Private Airline

The certificate is with effect from January 28, 2012.

Hostile policies, a decline in tourist arrivals into Zimbabwe since 2000 and lack of capital to effectively run private airlines have stifled the development of the aviation industry at a time when demand for faster and efficient transport systems has been growing.

Two registered private airlines operating in Zimbabwe are Solenta Aviation, which operates scheduled and non scheduled air services linking Harare to Kariba, Bumi Hills and Victoria Falls-and a cargo services carrier, Avient Aviation.

Sol Air managing director Nkosilathi Sibanda said the airliner would start with a 19 seater aircraft.

“We are grateful since we have been waiting for this opportunity for quite some time. If all goes well within the next three to four weeks, we will start domestic operations.

“We will be acquiring bigger aircrafts in due course. We are currently in talks with two companies in Dubai and South Africa to lease us three 70-seater aircrafts and the talks will be concluded with a month,” he said.

Documents in possession of Radio VOP signed by officials in the Ministry of Transport and Communication and as well as CAAZ general manager David Chawota confirm the latest development.

Sibanda said an international financier will soon avail US$3, 5 million to the airliner.

“The money is coming soon. The international lenders are willing to do business with Zimbabwe since exchange risk is eliminated due to the use of the multi currency in the country,” he said.

Sol Air has been designated the Bulawayo-Francistown- Gaborone, Harare-Bulawayo, Bulawayo- Victoria Falls and the Harare-Masvingo-Buffalo Range routes.

Sibanda said Sol Air would also strive to service other international routes such as the Harare-Nairobi, Bulawayo –Johannesburg, Victoria Falls and other lucrative routes.

In recent years private airlines have been shut out of dominant routes like Harare-Victoria Falls and the South African route to protect the ailing Air Zimbabwe.

While government has continued to keep home-grown airlines out of the lucrative Harare-Johannesburg route, South African airlines have enjoyed rich pickings, riding on a bilateral agreement allowing them to fly 56 flights per week, or about 6 000 passengers.

Sibanda said Sol Air has already been granted an International Air Transport Association (IATA) code YZ.

“This code allows passengers to access our tickets anywhere in the world through various IATA agencies,” he said adding that, “the company has a commercial interlining agreement with Air Zimbabwe which allow either to carry each other’s passengers.”

He said the move will also increase tourism in the country.

“To me this will also boost tourism which is currently suffering. This will provide connectivity in Zimbabwe and eventually in the region,” Sibanda said.

Zambezi Express Airlines, Mannock Holdings, Mekias Aviation, Alliance Air, and recently Fly Kumba, Nu-Aero and Vic Falls Airways, are among several airlines that have tried but failed to survive, or start operations in Zimbabwe.