FlyAfrica Zimbabwe plans to partner with a South African carrier to strengthen its value proposition on its Harare-Johannesburg route, which is expected to launch this year.

Chairman, Cassidy Mugwagwa, says an alliance with a local carrier would enable FlyAfrica Zimbabwe to offer travellers onward connections within South Africa and allow it to compete with other carriers like SAA that fly Harare-Johannesburg and offer onward connections in South Africa.

Though Mugwagwa can’t confirm with which airline FlyAfrica Zim is seeking an alliance, he expects the news to be revealed in the New Year.

The airline had originally planned to relaunch flights by the end of October but Mugwagwa says it had to settle issues with the Zimbabwean government, specifically a US$2,5m (R34m) tax debt left by the airline’s previous shareholders.  

However, he says the airline’s papers are now all in order, with the exception of its Foreign Operators Permit (FOP) which it expects to acquire any day now. “Our plan is to start flying sometime in the last week of February towards the beginning of March.” The strategy behind this is to avoid commencing flights in the typically low-revenue months of January and February.

According to Mugwagwa, the airline has sufficient funds and landed a US$34m (R463m) equity investment from foreign investors. Part of this investment is in the form of Boeing aircraft.

To comply with indigenisation laws, the equity has been provided on a buy-back basis spanning two years, he says.

Significant changes with regard to FlyAfrica Zim’s executive team are also in the pipeline, with the announcement of a new ceo to happen soon.

The airline will position itself as a value carrier rather than a low-cost carrier, which means checked baggage will not be charged for but other extras, such as a loyalty programme, will not be offered.