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Air Zim gets lifeline

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, is ready to co-operate with Air Zimbabwe in a massive boost for the national flag carrier struggling to find friends in the skies.

Report by Ndamu Sandu

Pieter Bootsma, KLM executive vice-president Marketing, revenue management and network, told stakeholders at a breakfast meeting last Tuesday that the airline stands ready to help once Air Zimbabwe is back in the skies. Air Zimbabwe resumed domestic flights last week while international flights were set for today.

“If Air Zimbabwe is back in the air, we are ready to co-operate with it. We are ready to find synergies between our two airlines and see how we can grow the market jointly.

“We believe in strategic partnerships. We believe in connections. We believe in friendships, which is one of the true values of KLM,” Bootsma said.

KLM resumed flights to Zimbabwe last Monday after 13 years and will fly into the country three times a week on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

It would also offer 11 weekly flights to Harare via Nairobi in partnership with Kenya Airways.
Bootsma said partnerships would drive the airline forward, adding that its partnership with Kenya Airways had created a hub in East Africa.

KLM was joined in the partnership by Mozambican airline, LAM, which also pledged to work with Air Zimbabwe. LAM commercial manager Claudio Banze said the airline was “here to stay” after resuming flights to Zimbabwe last week.

“We hope that very soon we will announce not only LAM flights, but LAM flights in code-share with Air Zimbabwe,” Banze said.
Analysts say the country has to sort out the high-landing fees so as to attract more airlines to Zimbabwe.

Airlines flying to Zimbabwe have raised concern about the high-landing fees charged by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.

Bootsma said high fees would be a major determinant on whether or not it increases direct flights to Zimbabwe.

Calculations made by Standardbusiness showed that KLM would pay over US$1 600 in fees alone per flight.

The calculations were made using fees on the CAAZ website.
KLM would pay inbound navigation charges of US$113,6, landing fees of US$1 130, docking fee of US$290 (assuming it has two-hour turnaround) and navigation fees of US$113,6 per flight.

Adding handling fees of US$2 000, means that KLM has to pay US$3 647,2 for every flight to Zimbabwe.

The fees, according to experts, work against efforts of luring airlines.

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