HARARE, November 5 (The Source) – Air Zimbabwe is in negotiations with Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier to acquire a new fleet of airplanes to replace its aging fleet, Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Obert Mpofu said on Wednesday.
If the talks succeed, this would be the first time the struggling state-owned airline will use Bombardier aircraft, after Boeing; the British made Viscount and BAe, the Chinese made MA60s and Airbus.
Mpofu told delegates attending Air Zimbabwe’s Bombardier Q400 next generation test flight that the airline must take advantage of new technology being offered by Bombardier and select the most suitable aircraft for the local environment.
“We have also been approached by various companies with proposals for us to buy their planes and we are still considering them,” he said.
Edmund Makona, the Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive officer said the national carrier has plans to purchase two planes as part of efforts to bolster its ageing fleet.
“Most airlines in Africa are using aircraft that is not suitable for their routes. We want to avoid such a scenario, that’s why we are negotiating with various aircraft suppliers,” said Makona adding that Air Zimbabwe “is currently looking for two suitable aircraft to service the domestic and thin regional routes”.
Bombardier’s turboprop Q400 has 67 seats and boasts of an active noise cancellation system. The aircraft has significantly lower operating costs compared to other planes.
Sameer Adam, Bombardier’s director for sales, Africa and Middle East said the company’s Q400 aircraft’s operating cost advantage made it ideal for Air Zimbabwe’s needs.
“We have over 110 Q Series aircraft in Africa and we would be happy to offer our services to Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mpofu said negotiations with Bombardier “are proceeding well.”