HARARE, May 7 — Air Zimbabwe has taken delivery of a leased 160-seater Airbus A320 which was in South Africa for mandatory safety checks.

Speaking at a ceremony to unveil the aircraft hee wednesday, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Obert Mpofu said the plane would assist the national airline improve its route network.

“I am happy to advise the travelling public that the A320 will soon be doing double daily flights from Harare to Johannesburg and also plying the Bulawayo-Johannesburg route,” he said.

“The return of the A320 from the South African technical services where it was undergoing mandatory checks will greatly improve the Air Zimbabwe fleet thus enabling it to expand its route network and frequencies. Certainly, its inaugural entrance into the market should be a real game changer for the airline and the traveling public.”

Mpofu said the A320 was ideal as it was fuel efficient thereby offering lower operating costs compared with the other planes in the fleet. A similar plane was also in South Africa for safety checks and would be added to the fleet in the next few weeks.

“This is a clear demonstration that the Ministry and Air Zimbabwe are working tirelessly towards achieving the targets set for the transport sector in our economic blue print, ZimAsset,” he added. “As a Ministry, beyond welcoming the A320, we pledge to continue supporting the air transport industry given its strategic importance to national development through facilitating trade, tourism and regional integration.

“Although Government will continue rendering support, the airline is expected to begin working towards self-sustenance through strategic lliances and maximum utilisation of its equipment.”

Air Zimbabwe chairman Eric Harid said the development would assist improve various sectors of the Zimbabwean economy, particularly tourism. “It is key to note that it is through aviation that the growth in
tourism will be achieved and those who choose to ignore their national airlines do so at their own peril,” he said.