Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Zimbabwe: Anjin Keen to Invest in Zimbabwe's Aviation Market

Anjin Investments, a Chinese owned multi-million dollar company mining diamonds at Marange, is interested in launching an airline to service the country's domestic, regional and international routes.

The independent Newsday newspaper reported on Tuesday that the company has already applied for a commercial airline licence from Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ).

Anjin is one of the four mining firms operating in Marange diamond fields, which has in recent times been criticised by Finance minister Tendai Biti for not remitting money to state coffers. It is understood that members of Robert Mugabe's military junta also have significant shareholdings in Anjin.

The firm's application to operate a commercial airline was carried in a Government Gazette published last Friday; a signal that all the groundwork to launch the project has long been in the planning.

An aviation expert who works at national airline Air Zimbabwe, although confessing ignorance of Anjin's plans, said he does not see anyone objecting or resisting the project.

There are rumours that Anjin Investments are being helped by top government officials, who are silent directors in the company.

In March this year, the national flag carrier was disbanded, ending almost 32 years of continuous service. Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche immediately announced a 'rebranding' of the airline's company, which is now Air Zimbabwe Private Limited.

'This has been a well executed plan. Anjin has applied for a licence, so once they get it, they will lease all planes used by Air Zimbabwe and recruit its staff as well to run their new company.

'You can be assured most of Anjin's workforce, including pilots and cabin crew, will be hired from the disbanded company,'

In December the financially crippled Air Zimbabwe Holdings cancelled all its flights to Johannesburg and London over fears that their planes would be seized to cover outstanding debts owed for handling service charges.

It was forced to raise $1.2 million to pay off a debt owed to U.S. Company, American General Supplies, for aircraft spares. The American firm had impounded Air Zimbabwe's Boeing 767-200 after it landed at London's Gatwick Airport and had threatened to auction the plane off, if the debt wasn't paid off.

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