HARARE, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe's national airline, which has been running without a substantive head since January 2011, has begun searching for a new managing director to oversee the turnaround of the struggling carrier.
Air Zimbabwe Board said Thursday that the suitable candidate would be required to provide strategic direction to the organization and coordinate the company's business activities that ensure the business is run professionally and profitably.
Until last month, the airline had been operating with an interim board of directors since March 2012 when government disbanded the debt-ridden Air Zimbabwe Holdings and formed a new state-run company, Air Zimbabwe Private Limited.
Although the new company was supposed to be debt-free, it has remained stuck with a 150 million U.S. dollars debt because the government is yet to officially assume the debt. Board chairperson Ozias Bvute early this month told a portfolio committee of parliament that the board would seek to recruit a substantive head for the airline as soon as possible, as one of the measures to help turnaround fortunes at the airline which has been dogged by operational and financial constraints over the last couple of years.
The challenges, which worsened at the height of the country's economic meltdown between 2000 and 2008, have resulted in the airline's service delivery being severely compromised.
Currently, the airline is operating minimal domestic and regional flights while international flights remain suspended since December 2011, when one of its aircraft was impounded at London's Gatwick International Airport over a 2.2 million U.S. dollars debt.
The plane has since returned to the country after the airline cleared the debt, with Bvute saying plans were afoot to re-launch the lucrative Harare-London flight in July. He said plans were also underway to increase the frequency of flights on another lucrative route, South Africa, and add more routes in the region.
Despite its huge debt, the airline, with more than 1,000 employees, continues to scout for a strategic partner to help revamp operations.