THE Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has cleared budget airline, FlyAfrica, to resume flying, ending a nearly three months suspension of its flying certificate, the Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets (C&M) can report.
The airline was suspended from operating in the country by CAAZ, a government agency responsible for regulating and managing Zimbabwe’s airspace and airports, in October last year after boardroom squabbles erupted between the airline’s local and South African shareholders.
The airline, which aims to make flying affordable throughout Africa, was a partnership between Chakanyuka Karase’s family investment vehicle called Fresh Air and Mike Bond of the now defunct One Time of South Africa.
CAAZ spokesperson, Annajulia Hungwe, told C&M that CAAZ had given approval for FlyAfrica to resume its domestic operations.
Hungwe said the regulatory body had lifted the suspension placed on the operations of FlyAfrica after it successfully complied with all regulatory requirements.
“FlyAfrica was recertified after complying with all regulatory requirements and now has its AOC (Airline Operator Certificate) back.”
Hungwe, however, did not disclose when the low cost airline would resume flights, referring questions to FlyAfrica officials.
It was not immediately clear if the airline had changed its shareholding after a dispute with Karase.
Karase held the licence to operate the low cost airline in Zimbabwe and was the chief executive officer of the airline.
Attempts to fire him and replace him with a pilot called Mathias Munyaradzi led the businessman to voluntarily surrender the carrier’s flying certificate to CAAZ, grounding operations at the country’s second major airline after Air Zimbabwe.
The airline’s foreign partner had filed fraud charges against a member of the Karase family but it was, however, not immediately clear by the time of going to print if the internal squabbles had been resolved.
Several attempts to get a comment from Karase were futile as his mobile phone was not reachable.
FlyAfrica had extended its route network to Namibia after it started flying in Zimbabwe in 2014, connecting Harare and Victoria Falls as well as Johannesburg.
The budget airline has been competing with Air Zimbabwe and South African Airways.
But now, with fastjet’s Victoria Falls-Harare flight, which was recently launched, FlyAfrica is likely to find it difficult reclaiming its market share.
Fastjet Zimbabwe, a low cost airline headquartered in Tanzania, is offering cheaper fares for the Harare-Victoria Falls route at US$38 per single flight, inclusive of taxes while FlyAfrica was charging an average of US$340 for return flights. National flag carrier, Air Zimbabwe, operates flights on the route, and charge US$340 for return flights.
Fastjet made a historic entry into the domestic airlines market a few days after FlyAfrica was suspended in October.
It is the first predominantly foreign-owned airline to be granted permission to operate domestic flights in Zimbabwe, as government moves to open the industry to private players.
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