FLEDGLING local airline, FlyAfrica Zimbabwe, is set to commence commercial flights on the Harare-Johannesburg and Harare-Bulawayo routes next week following several false starts last year.
FlyAfrica, which experienced internal challenges following legal battles between shareholders, released flyers announcing plans for the flights and encouraging bookings from April 14, 2018. The airline was given an ultimatum by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to either commence operations or risk losing its Aircraft Operating Certificate (AOC) in October last year.
As a result, FlyAfrica ended up wet-leasing a B737-500 from Africa Charter Airline (FSK, Lanseria) to conduct an urgent charter flight.
While the carrier managed to narrowly meet the deadline, it was forced to further delay its full operational launch following the initiation of a lawsuit by the former majority shareholders of the carrier’s predecessor, Nu-Aero (Pvt) Ltd, trading as Zimbabwe flyafrica.
Chairman Cassidy Mugwagwa then told The Financial Gazette that the airline was “ready to go” but the launch of commercial flights dragged on as the company offered charter services to stay afloat.
As earlier reported, the airline’s former shareholder, Chakanyuka Karase, wanted to assume a 51 percent shareholding in the Mugwagwa-led organisation after an acrimonious partnership dispute with former shareholder, Mauritius-based investment vehicle, and Nu.com.
After Karase surrendered the airline’s AOC to the Zimbabwean authorities, flyafrica then exercised a default call-option in the Nu-Aero shareholder’s agreement that required Nu.com to sell to flyafrica all its shares within the time frame stipulated in the clause.
When Karase and Nu.com did not respond to the notice, the Mauritian firm automatically assumed ownership of its shares.
As the debacle ended, flyafrica’s parent, flyafrica Holdings, sold Nu-Aero to another Zimbabwean firm, Low Cost Enterprises, which has been trying to re-launch the airline under the FlyAfrica Zimbabwe brand.
It is this development that prompted Karase and Nu.com to apply and seek a declaratory order which, if given, would confirm that Nu.com is still the 51 percent shareholder in Nu-Aero and, therefore, part of the new Fly Africa Zimbabwe venture.
Karase and his company claimed that they never sold their shares to Flyafrica and argue that such a suggestion “is untrue, unlawful and mischievous”.
They also alleged that the take-over did not comply with Zimbabwe’s Companies Act as well as the Constitution of Zimbabwe.