Captain Simba Chikore and wife, Bona, after touring the new Zim Airways plane at the Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare on Wednesday. PHOTO: ANA

The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has taken the delivery of a Boeing 777 plane acquired under from Malaysia, the first of three soon to grace Zimbabwe’s skies.

One of the planes landed on Wednesday at the Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare.

The planes were procured by the Zimbabwe government and will be leased out to new entity Zim Airways, which incidentally has the same livery as Air Zimbabwe, which is saddled with debt running into millions.

State flag carrier Air Zimbabwe only has two operational planes out of a hangar of eight.

Speaking after the delivery of the first Zim Airways plane, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the aircraft was the property of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

The involvement of Captain Simba Chikore, the former chief operating officer of Air Zimbabwe - and son-in-law of former president Robert Mugabe - in the identification and subsequent purchase of the planes from Malaysian Airlines raised eyebrows. Chikore is married to Bona Mugabe.

“Simba Chikore assisted government in the acquisition of the planes with technical knowledge as an expert in the field,” Chinamasa said.

He said three more planes would be delivered, including an Embraer. Chinamasa did not say when the aircraft would be delivered. 

“Government agreed to pay $70 million for the four planes but has so far paid for two."

The planes have a lifespan of 15-20years. Chinamasa said the Zimbabwe government also intends to acquire six smaller aircraft. 

He said the planes are owned by a 100-percent-owned special purpose vehicle called Zimbabwe Aviation Leasing Company and are being leased to state-owned Zimbabwe Airways.

- African News Agency (ANA)