He is going to be replaced by Innocent Mavhunga who was managing the National Handling Services.
Chikumba, who was at the helm of the airline for four years told Radio VOP on Friday:“I had a contract which comes to an end at the end of the year and had a provision for renewal which I have opted not to exercise.”
“If you look at the history of the airline it’s the first time that a CEO since 1980 has said I am actually leaving the airline, all my predecessors and I mean all had either resigned or were fired. For me it’s not about praising oneself but it’s the beginning of setting a new legacy, we need to set a legacy of professionalism of respect. If we are building we must be able to understand that in a race you don’t run continuously alone, there are many others good sportsman, you must be able to pass on the button and I am pleased that what I have done.”
Chikumba described his tenure at the airline as challenging. He even equated himself to the biblical Moses leading the children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land. He said he took the airline from Egypt and has left it in the desert and now it needs an Joshua to take it to the promised land.
His exit came just a few days after the airline’s pilots downed tools for the second time in as many months suggesting that the experienced manager might have been pressured to call time on his rein at the airline.
Chikumba told Radio VOP that he opted not renew his contract in order to pursue other things.
Chikumba joined the troubled airline in 2006 from Air Namibia. At the time, the airline was facing serious operational problems from shambolic scheduling to constant breakdowns.
He has arguably managed to turn around the airline’s scheduling times and maintain its safety record despite operating an aging fleet in the few years that he has been at the helm.
Chikumba who was blunt in his management style faced some of the greatest challenges during his tenure such as steering the airline into viability during the Zimbabwe dollar era. Among some of the memorable challenges were having to operate on a US$ 1 million a day budget while being pressured by the infamous National Pricing
Commission to charge uneconomical rates which saw travellers to London paying as little as US$20 to fly to London after changing foreign currency into Zimbabwe dollars on the then thriving black market.
Air Zimbabwe flies two Boeing 737, two Boeing 767 and an MA 60 aircraft. The other two are grounded with one declared a complete right off.