The pilots’ spokesperson Captain Charles Chikosi told the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development that the management had failed to capitalise on its unique and advantageous routes within the region and internationally leading to the crippling of the company.
Chikosi said that the airline had failed to utilise its virtual monopoly on all the internal routes to make huge profits.
“The airline is the only one that flies directly from Harare to London yet due to its incompetence, greater share off the market had been taken up by other carriers. It has an operation base that is well geographically placed and most of its fleet is fully paid up in comparison to other carriers that lease aircraft at greater costs” he said.
Chikosi told the committee that because the planes were outdated and did not meet the international standards in the aviation industry, passengers opted for the services of their competitors such as Kenyan and South African airways.
He said: “Even our own legislators and high rank officials do not want to fly with Air Zimbabwe because it still lags behind when it comes to meeting state of the art standards”.
Chikosi also said the failure by the company to embark on air cargo business that is very profitable as evidenced by other cargo airlines such as Martin Air and SAA cargo as one of the reasons that has led to the company into trouble.
“We have a lot of cargo that comes into this country that our airline has failed to utilise to generate income” he said.
Captain Emilia Njovana told the committee that air Zimbabwe had failed to utilise training facilities at Charles Prince airport leading to a massive shortage of pilots.
“Brilliant young people are leaving the country to train elsewhere while the company is failing to utilise its training school,” Njovana added.
The pilots who have embarked on an industrial action for two weeks now told the committee that they knew how the company was ailing in debt hence they were not asking for more but only wanted it to pay them what they are owed.
Acting chief executive officer of the Air Zimbabwe Innocent Mavhunga earlier on had told the same committee in a separate meeting that the airline was in urgent need of recapitalisation.
“Our planes are now more than 23 years old which makes them very expensive to maintain. All these things are the reason why Air Zimbabwe is at this current state. If you not reliable you do not expect passenger to fly your planes,” said Mavhunga.
Mavhunga blamed the previous managements for failure to examine the company’s capacity before signing new contracts for employees.
”In all previous agreements, the company’s capacity to pay had not been put into consideration putting the company under duress,” he said.