Air Zimbabwe is targeting a return to London and Beijing as soon as this year part of a new push for network growth chief executive Edmund Makona disloses.
Speaking to Flightglobal at the World Routes conference in Durban, the airline boss says the Harare-based carrier will “continue to make efforts to engage the necessary stakeholders so that it comes to fruition by the end of the year”.
Makona says the Zimbabwean flag carrier is in the midst of its “relaunch phase” and says that “at the heart of that strategy is growth so we really intend to grow our route network and very soon we will also be implementing our long-haul routes, London Beijing very soon”.
The airline chief says Air Zimbabwe is currently operating from Harare to Johannesburg, Lusaka, Victoria Falls and Bulawayo. Makona says the the Harare-Joahnnesburg route is the most lucrative in the network.
The African airline currently has eight aircraft of which six are operational says Makona. This includes three Boeing 767s, two 737s and an Airbus A320.
Makona says the carrier is currently evaluating its fleet expansion options, with both Airbus A320s and A330s or alternatively the Boeing 787 under consideration.
The airline executive says the carrier is currently in a “transformative process of transforming the airline from non-profit to profitability” adding that since relaunching operations in 2013 Air Zimbabwe has managed to reduce its losses.
Air Zimbabwe is targeting break even this year with Makona adding: “This is our intention we believe we can achieve that”.
United Airlines is looking to expand its footprint in China. The carrier said on Tuesday it is seeking regulatory approval to begin seasonal flights between its San Francisco hub and the interior Chinese city of Xi’an.
If approved, United says it would be the first U.S. carrier to serve Xi’an and the first-ever to offer a trans-Pacific route from the city. United has proposed seasonal service between the cities, saying it would fly three times a week on Boeing 787-8 “Dreamliner” aircraft. The service would operate from mid-May through late October.
“We are excited by the prospect of using the game-changing 787 to make Xi’an a new trans-Pacific gateway for China,” Jim Compton, United’s chief revenue officer, says in a statement. “Assuming our application is approved, we will offer our customers unique non-stop flights between one of China’s most vibrant cities and the U.S. West Coast, with fast and easy connections via our San Francisco hub to destinations throughout the Americas.”
Xi’an would become United’s 11th nonstop route to the Asia/Pacific region out of its hub in San Francisco. United says it “already operates more non-stop China-U.S. flights, and from more cities in China, than any other airline.”
The 787-8s that United would fly on the San Francisco-Xi’an route seat 219, including 36 in business class, 70 in Economy Plus and 113 in standard coach.
United projects the flight time on the route to be about 12 hours, 5 minutes, eastbound and about 13 hours, 5 minutes, westbound. China-bound flights would operate Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, leaving San Francisco at 1:25 p.m. and landing in Xi’an at 5:30 p.m. the next day (all times local). The return would leave Xi’an on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 10:30 a.m., arriving to San Francisco at 7:35 a.m. the same day, all times local.
UNITED on 22SEP15 filed an application to the US Department of Transportation, seeking approval to operate San Francisco – Xi’An route. The Star Alliance member intends to operate this route 3 times a week, using Boeing 787-8. Subject to Approval, first flight for this seasonal service is tentatively scheduled on 08MAY16.
Proposed schedule as follow.
UA853 SFO1325 – 1730+1XIY 788 247
UA852 XIY1030 – 0735SFO 788 246
Hainan Airlines in summer 2016 season will commence service to Israel, as it plans 3 weekly Beijing – Tel Aviv operation. Airbus A330-200 aircraft is scheduled to operate this route from 28APR16.
HU7957 PEK0155 – 0810TLV 332 247
HU7958 TLV1435 – 0500+1PEK 332 247