Air Zimbabwe to drop routes to Kariba

Loss-making Zimbabwean national airline Air Zimbabwe is seeking to have another airline take over flights from Harare and Victoria Falls to the popular tourist destination at Kariba. Currently, Air Zimbabwe operates its single BAe 146 to Kariba, whose runway is too short for the airline’s Boeing 737s. Air Zimbabwe had earlier abandoned services from Kariba and Victoria Falls to Hwange National Park, for which the 146 had proved too large. The 146 had been used to operate the Hwange routes after the airline disposed of its Fokker 50s (ironically, these routes had for many years been the province of another British four-engined airliner, the Vickers Viscount). Airlines approached to take over the Kariba services include Cessna Caravan operator Air Zambezi (which already competes with Air Zimbabwe from Harare to Kariba, and which took over the Hwange-Victoria Falls route after Air Zimbabwe pulled out) and new entrant Air Link. They would operate the service with their own aircraft, in which case the BAe 146 would presumably be disposed of. Although the 146 formally belongs to Zimbabwe’s Air Force, which uses her for VIP flights, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is widely thought to dislike the shorthaul 146 as insufficiently prestigious and to be shopping for an A319CJ.

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