Bankrupt Zimbabwe Purchases 2 777s for Its Bankrupt Airline
A bankrupt country has purchased two wide-body jets for a bankrupt airline. On Wednesday, Zimbabwe's finance minister announced it purchased two Boeing 777s meant for Air Zimbabwe, the country's national carrier.
It plans on purchasing two more from an "unidentified Malaysian firm" according to Reuters, but it has yet to put up the cash for the two other aircraft. The deal cost a total of $70 million and reports indicate the wide-body's were previously owned by Malaysia Airlines.
Air Zimbabwe also purchased a "small Embraer plane" and plans on taking delivery of five more similar aircraft.
The aircraft will be owned by Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company, a special government-run firm. During the delivery ceremony the finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said that the aircraft would be operated by a new private airline, Zimbabwe Airways.
Local media has reported that the purchase of the aircraft is linked to former president Robert Mugabe's family although Chinamasa disputes the claim. In fact, the aircraft's call sign is Z-RGM, which stands for Zimbabwe – Robert Gabriel Mugabe, according to AfricaNews.com.
Air Zimbabwe is in about $330 million of debt, and Chinamasa said it couldn't continue to support the failing airline, comparing investing in it to "putting resources into a bottomless pit." Chinamasa wouldn't comment on whether the new private airline would lead to the end of the state-owned Air Zimbabwe. Air Zimbabwe currently flies two Boeing 767s and one 737.
"Air Zimbabwe must put their house in order, and as long as they don't put their house in order, these planes I can lease to any third party who can pay treasury the lease fees for the utilizations of the aeroplanes," Chinamasa said.
According to other local reports, Chinamasa added that the 777s will be used on their "traditional routes" like Harare (HRE) to London, and he hopes that they will fly to China and other countries. Government inspectors said the jets should be able to operate efficiently for the next 15 to 20 years.
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