HARARE (Reuters) – Loss-making Air Zimbabwe is cutting half of its 400 jobs as part of a restructuring plan meant to revive the ailing national carrier, Chairwoman Chipo Dyanda said on Wednesday.
Like most state-owned companies in the southern African country, Air Zimbabwe has been making losses for years due to mismanagement, high operating costs, old aircraft and equipment.
Dyanda told Reuters that Air Zimbabwe would cut 200 jobs in its fourth round of lay-offs in eight years.
“We were overstaffed by a lot and we are also trying to weed out people without the right qualifications,” Dyanda said.
“The retrenchment is meant to give space to the airline so that we can redeploy the money saved back into the company.”
Air Zimbabwe cut 300 jobs in August 2015 following cuts in 2009 and 2013, but has since rehired some of the workers.
President Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law Simba Chikore was appointed chief operating officer last October, drawing accusations of nepotism from the opposition and critics of the government.
Dyanda said Air Zimbabwe required a ratio of 45 workers per aircraft. The airline currently flies four planes, which has forced Mugabe to at times hire private jets for his foreign travels.
“As part of the strategic plan, we would like to get more reliable planes and expand our routes,” Dyanda said, without giving details.
An official at Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Transport said the airline, which has debts of more than $300 million, is looking to lease aircraft from Malaysia.
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Ed Stoddard and Jason Neely)