HARARE-- The Zimbabwean government on Wednesday took delivery of the first of four Boeing 777 planes that it acquired from Malaysia for 70 million us DOLLARS as it pushes to revive its aviation sector for the benefit of the economy.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said THE government had paid 41 million USD for two of the planes and owed 29 million USD for the other two, which are yet to be delivered. The second plane which was fully paid for is expected to be delivered soon.

The planes, to be housed under a 100 per cent government-owned special purpose vehicle called the Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company (ZALC), will be leased to Zimbabwe Airways, another 100 per cent owned government company.

There is a business plan to acquire planes to fly both regional and international routes and it is our expectation that this should help to revive our economic fortunes, Chinamasa said.

There is a plan to acquire further small aeroplanes, six Embraers which will help to bring passenger loads from the sub-region to feed into these big aeroplanes, especially when they ply international routes. Of the six, we have already bought one.

The Boeing 777 is a family of long-range wide-body, twin-engine jet airliners with a seating capacity of between 314 and 396 passengers while the Embraers are a narrow-body medium-range, twin-engine jetiners with a carrying capacity of 66 to 124 passengers.

Chinamasa said government had received recommendation from Boeing, the manufacturer of the Malaysian planes, that they were in good condition and had a lifespan of between 15 to 20 years. We believe we got a very good price for this kind of asset, he said.

The overall plan behind acquisition of the new planes, which will not belong to Air Zimbabwe, was to force the debt-ridden national airline to put its house in order and come up with a business plan that will allow it to operate viably.

Chinamasa said Government could not continue to put more resources into a bottomless pit in the form of Air Zimbabwe but required a strong airline to service the interests of the country, to bring in tourists, to bring in business people, to increase and help sustain the economic fortunes of the country.

Air Zimbabwe must put their house in order. As long as they do not put their house in order, I will lease the planes to any third parties who can pay the lease fees, he said.

Chinamasa said the government had been working on the new project since 2016 and had kept it under wraps for fear of the plans being scuttled by hostile nations as Zimbabwe is under sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.

The finance minister dismissed speculation that the planes were owned by the former First Family of President Robert Mugabe and that Simba Chikore, an in-law of the former president, had shareholding in the


I am here to categorically state that the aeroplane is the property and asset of the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Chinamasa said. Speculation that the aircraft belong to the former First Family is


Chinamasa said Chikore, who is a pilot, had been recruited to assist in the acquisition of the planes as an expert in the field.