British Airways Flies Out – Will Air Zimbabwe Cope?

On the 28th of October a British Airways Boeing 777 flew out of Harare on its way to London for the last time. BA cited high operational costs as the reason for the pull out. Fuel shortages in Zimbabwe had forced them to truck fuel in from neighbouring countries which was becoming uneconomical. A decline in passenger numbers was also resulting in losses on the Harare route.

In the nineties, BA flew packed Boeing 747 jumbo jets to Harare four times a week. A number of other foreign airlines flew into the country and these included the likes of Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, TAP and Qantas just to name a few.

When the political situation in Zimbabwe started to deteriorate a number of airlines withdrew their services. All that was left was a handful of African carriers and BA. Due to dwindling passenger numbers BA cut their services to three flights a week on 777s which carry half the capacity of 747s. With BA’s departure, Air Zimbabwe is left as the only airline with a direct route to Europe.

To fill in the gaps, Air Zimbabwe has added two more flights to the Harare-London route. This brings their weekly flights between the two cities to five. Them being able to handle the increase in flights is another story. The state owned airline has been facing a few problems brought about lack of fuel, maintenance and mismanagement issues. There have been periods when flight delays have stretched for more than a few hours and ran into days. On occasion aircrafts have been diverted to cater to government officials leaving a number of passengers stranded. Only time will tell if they are able to provide a good service.

There is a question that is still on peoples minds. Was BAs pullout really due to economics or was it politically motivated in an effort to further isolate Zimbabwe?

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