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Air Zimbabwe - Reliable?  
User currently offlineMilesDependent From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 856 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 5386 times:

Hi

Am travelling to Southern Africa in Jan next year and am definitely going to Vic Falls, but am also considering checking out Harare for a day/night.

The only way I can structure the flights (without doubling back through JNB) is to do an internal HRE -> VFA flight on UM.

Does anyone know much about the reliability of UM at the minute? Are the chronic fuel shortages in Zimbabwe meaning internal flights are often cancelled? I really do not want to get stranded in HRE.

BTW - Yes, I know Zim is not the safest place in the world at the minute, but I am very experienced travelling through troubled parts of the world, and accept the inherent risks ... so no need for any lectures about travelling there.

Thanks
mD

29 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAndz From South Africa, joined Feb 2004, 8443 posts, RR: 10
Reply 1, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 5337 times:
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I can't comment on the airline but...

Quoting MilesDependent (Thread starter):
I know Zim is not the safest place in the world at the minute,

I don't know where you get this from. You'll be safer in Harare than in Johannesburg.



After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
User currently offlineRussianJet From Belgium, joined Jul 2007, 7694 posts, RR: 21
Reply 2, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 5275 times:
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Quoting Andz (Reply 1):
I don't know where you get this from. You'll be safer in Harare than in Johannesburg.

Oh come on mate, that's not saying much! It's obviously not the most stable environment at the moment now is it? As for Air Zim, as far as I hear it's not very reliable and is probably best avoided.



✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlineLxlgu From South Africa, joined Sep 2000, 1085 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 5183 times:

Hi mD!

The Victoria Falls Harare flights seem to operate quite SA Czech Airlines">OK but they are often subject to
schedule changes so check at least the day before you fly
Johannesburg Victoria Falls Johannesburg usually is cancelled-but full revenue paxs
get bumped to SA and BA
The Johannesburg Harare Johannesburg flights normally operate as per schedule
Cheers!
Tony


User currently offlineEmbajador3 From Spain, joined Aug 2006, 318 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 5169 times:

A few years ago,on one of my flights, i had the opportunity to talk to a couple who had a farm and some lands in Zimbabwe. When i asked them about how they were getting home, they said that they would travel Air Zimbabwe over BA, because of its safety record. They also said that the service was acceptable.

Only a few months later, the Zimbabwean goverment started to take posession of all lands owned by white farmers. I suppose, this couple had to go back to the UK.

Regards



Flying Together
User currently offlineMainMAN From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 2097 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 5161 times:



Quoting RussianJet (Reply 2):
It's obviously not the most stable environment at the moment now is it? As for Air Zim, as far as I hear it's not very reliable and is probably best avoided.

Most affluent Zimbabweans (esp from the northern suburbs) just continue living the way they always have, with a few extra challenges like trying to find fuel and having intermittent power. One thing that has changed is that they no longer go into town, but it wouldn't stop me.


User currently offlineRussianJet From Belgium, joined Jul 2007, 7694 posts, RR: 21
Reply 6, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5127 times:
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Quoting MainMAN (Reply 5):
Most affluent Zimbabweans (esp from the northern suburbs) just continue living the way they always have, with a few extra challenges like trying to find fuel and having intermittent power. One thing that has changed is that they no longer go into town, but it wouldn't stop me.

Granted, but his original statement was hardly a gross exaggeration was it?



✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlineAlexEU From Serbia, joined Oct 2007, 1817 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5086 times:

Zimbabwe is a safe country (using African standards  Smile ) , it's political situation is not safe.

Does UM still uses Xian MA-60? I think they may use it on HRE-Vic falls flight. Did anybody fly with it?


User currently offlineCoal From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 2005 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5059 times:

Speaking of which, can you book SIN-PEK flights? Would love to do that leg!

Cheers
Coal



Nxt Flts: VA SYD-CBR-SYD | VA SYD-OOL-SYD | JQ SYD-MEL | VA MEL-CBR-SYD | DL SYD-LAX-ATL-MIA | B6 FLL-DCA-BOS | DL BOS-L
User currently offlineLxlgu From South Africa, joined Sep 2000, 1085 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5000 times:

Hi Alex!

Air Zimbabwe are using MA60

Hi Coal!
Air Zimbabwe do have traffic rights SINGAPORE BEIJING
Fares quite pricy but maybe the Air Zimbabwe office in SIN can do a better fare

Cheers!
Tony


User currently offlineAlexEU From Serbia, joined Oct 2007, 1817 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4899 times:

Hi Tony!
Are they using MA-60 on flights to JNB (from BUQ)? Did a.nutter flow with it?
What about UM B767 at JNB? I've seen a lot of pics.

Does UM flies to Guangzhou?


User currently offlineLxlgu From South Africa, joined Sep 2000, 1085 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4843 times:

Hi Alex!

They use the MA60 on flights to and from Bulawayo
Usually the Johannesburg Harare flights are 732 200s but ocasionally they have the 762 on
a Johannesburg flight.I think we last saw the 762 about 2 weeks ago in JNB-usually when
a 732 goes tech or has scheduled maintenance

Cheers!
Tony


User currently offlineAirNovaBAe146 From Canada, joined Jun 2008, 362 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 4756 times:



Quoting AlexEU (Reply 10):
Are they using MA-60 on flights to JNB (from BUQ)? Did a.nutter flow with it?
What about UM B767 at JNB? I've seen a lot of pics.

Does UM flies to Guangzhou?

Yes - they fly the MA-60s from Bulawayo to JNB.

Occasionally they'll upsize the morning or evening JNB rotation from a B732 to a B762.

For all the adversity Zimbabwe is up against as a country, I think UM does a remarkable job. Just the fact they are not blacklisted in Europe (unlike over 100 operators from Africa) is a testament that there are some capable, qualified people running the flight operations department.

The bulk of their fleet is aging (3 B732s, 2 B762s), but I've had it explained to me that their mechanics have been working with these aircraft for so long that they really know how to keep them operational. I'd also imagine their is an ample supply of spare parts for these aircraft available, so one way or another, they get to Air Zim.

The 3 MA60s gave them a bunch of maintenance headaches at first, but their reliability is steadily improving. I believe Air Zim also recently put in an order for some IL-96s.

UM has had a solid safety record. For all the political fighting and trouble within Zimbabwe going on there, there hasn't been any accidents (similar to Hewa Bora in Goma back in April).

Their crews are reasonably experienced. Their airplanes are tired on the inside (worn fabric, old school seats), but having taken Air Zim several times last year, their FAs all had good attitudes towards their job. Last year, while transiting through HRE, I met a frequent traveller from Harare to London who told me he actually preferred Air Zimbabwe's inflight meals to British Airways.

Last but not least, Air Zimbabwe's prices are affordable. They don't play those games of jacking up prices in the month leading up to departure. The one caveat I have is that I wouldn't book an Air Zim ticket more than a month out, as there are frequent rumors of the carriers demise. Then again, apparently this kind of stuff has been circulating for years and they keep on surviving, so take it for what its worth.

Here in FBM, we get Air Zimbabwe service 4x/week from Harare, via Lusaka, as well as their 10x weekly intra-DRC service to Kinshasa. Their aircraft are late, but they always complete flights. I've had good experiences with UM, and I'll book them again.

AN


User currently offlineSkymiler From United States of America, joined Aug 2007, 524 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 4637 times:

As a historical note, I flew on them in 1979 when they were Air Rhodesia (Vickers Viscounts) and found them reliable and friendly. The flight engineer was the mayor of Salisbury!
Since they were having problems with insurgents shooting down commercial airliners, we spiraled in and out of Victoria Falls, which was most amazing!

I hope that all the positive attitudes I found are still there, even with all the changes in the country ..



I love to fly, and it shows!
User currently offlineAlexEU From Serbia, joined Oct 2007, 1817 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4558 times:

Does UM flies from Vic Falls to JNB direct?
What about their flights to DXB? Is it via LLW?

Quoting AirNovaBAe146 (Reply 12):
Here in FBM, we get Air Zimbabwe service 4x/week from Harare, via Lusaka, as well as their 10x weekly intra-DRC service to Kinshasa. Their aircraft are late, but they always complete flights. I've had good experiences with UM, and I'll book them again.

What happened with Air Malawi codeshare? I think they flew LLW-HRE-FBM with ATR-42.

Quoting Lxlgu (Reply 11):
They use the MA60 on flights to and from Bulawayo
Usually the Johannesburg Harare flights are 732 200s but ocasionally they have the 762 on
a Johannesburg flight.I think we last saw the 762 about 2 weeks ago in JNB-usually when
a 732 goes tech or has scheduled maintenance

I would love to see any UM trip report !

Cheers, Alex


User currently offlineAirNovaBAe146 From Canada, joined Jun 2008, 362 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4510 times:



Quoting AlexEU (Reply 14):
Does UM flies from Vic Falls to JNB direct?
What about their flights to DXB? Is it via LLW?

You would have to connect through Harare.

Another option for the person who originated this thread would be to take Zambian Airways, via Lusaka. They fly multiple times per week JNB - Lusaka, and then have a late afternoon connection to Livingston (the Zambian side of Vic Falls). I've heard its quite easy to cross over at the border, although you'll have to fork over a little $$$ for a Zimbabwe day visa if you want to see it from the Zim side. Both sides are spectacular.

Heck - like a true Airliners.Net member, I'd do it via Harare, just to fly on an MA60  Smile

AN

PS - Alex, sorry I should have submitted a trip report last year after taking UM FBM - HRE - LGW and bac, and also from JNB - HRE - FBM. I'll do so next time.


User currently offlineHowSwedeitis From Sweden, joined Jul 2007, 586 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 4418 times:
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Quoting MilesDependent (Thread starter):
but am also considering checking out Harare for a day/night.

Prepare to see a sad sight.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/h...s_hatcliffe_destruction/html/1.stm

As far as UM is concerned it is a tricky situation. With Zimbabwe and it's 100 billion trillion inflation, it's hard to say that safety is UM's #1 priority.

As of 14 June 2008, the average age of the Air Zimbabwe fleet is 20.2 years
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Zimbabwe

-HSII



Heja Sverige!!
User currently offlineAlexEU From Serbia, joined Oct 2007, 1817 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 4265 times:



Quoting AirNovaBAe146 (Reply 15):
PS - Alex, sorry I should have submitted a trip report last year after taking UM FBM - HRE - LGW and bac, and also from JNB - HRE - FBM. I'll do so next time.

No need to apologize... you can do it always! Btw, I think that flying on Congolese airline(s) is even more interesting. Did you fly Hewa Bora FBM-JNB? does the flight FIH-FBM-JNB carries pax between FIH and FBM or between FBM and JNB?

Cheers, Alex


User currently offlineSpeedbird741 From Portugal, joined Aug 2008, 654 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 4144 times:



Quoting Embajador3 (Reply 4):
When i asked them about how they were getting home, they said that they would travel Air Zimbabwe over BA, because of its safety record. They also said that the service was acceptable.

Come on....how can you you compare the safety records of two airlines like these when one of them has hundreds of more flights per day....as for the service i hear it is rather good actually.


Speedbird741



Boa noite Faro, Air Portugal 257 climbing flight level 340
User currently offlineAviateur From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 1351 posts, RR: 12
Reply 19, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 3538 times:

For what it's worth, Air Zimbabwe is one of only a few national carriers to be fatality-free since at least 1980!

They haven't had a crash since Air Rhodesia days, I'm pretty sure.

That hasn't much to do with the country's most recent situation (and, presumably, the airline's precarious state), but still.


PS



Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
User currently offlineMainMAN From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 2097 posts, RR: 5
Reply 20, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 3367 times:



Quoting RussianJet (Reply 6):
Granted, but his original statement was hardly a gross exaggeration was it?

I didn't mean anything by what I said before.

I've known people who work for Air Zim for 20 odd years. They're total professionals.

Harare remains a safe city. It's currently living under an insane dictatorship, but it's testimony to the sheer courage of the people still living there, that they're managing to keep things sane.


User currently onlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24914 posts, RR: 22
Reply 21, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 3296 times:

Quoting Aviateur (Reply 19):
For what it's worth, Air Zimbabwe is one of only a few national carriers to be fatality-free since at least 1980!

However, reliability is more than just safety. I believe Mugabe has been know to commandeer UM aircraaft on short notice for his foreign trips, resulting in cancelled flights and inconvenienced passengers.

[Edited 2008-08-28 19:08:50]

User currently offlineMilesDependent From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 856 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 3280 times:

Thanks for the replies so far. An interesting thread. The more I think about flying UM the more uncomfortable I get.

I've been on my share of interesting airlines: Air Koryo IL-62, Saha Air 707, Adam Air, various Burmese airlines, various Russian Tupolev 134/154s, United (lol) etc ---- but I am starting to think an Air Zimbabwe MA-60 might be pushing it... Am I getting a bit wimpy in my old age?

My concerns with Air Zim are:
1. How could they possibly have any money to maintain their aircraft
2. The flight is cancelled due to (eg) there being no fuel available meaning we have to high-tale it back to JNB and miss out on Vic Falls... We are on a pretty tight schedule

What do the more adventurous a.net folk think about this one? Would y'all feel comfortable flying UM?

Quoting MainMAN (Reply 20):
Harare remains a safe city. It's currently living under an insane dictatorship, but it's testimony to the sheer courage of the people still living there, that they're managing to keep things sane.

I take everything I hear with a grain of salt. The government warnings are (as always) dire with their reports of extreme levels of dangerous crime. A lot of people who've been there say it is really very safe. I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. If you take sensible precautions in Harare (like most cities) such as not flashing around wealth and staying in reasonably crowded areas, you'd be unlucky to have any significant problems.

[Edited 2008-08-28 19:09:35]

User currently offlineEmbajador3 From Spain, joined Aug 2006, 318 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 3165 times:



Quoting Speedbird741 (Reply 18):
Come on....how can you you compare the safety records of two airlines like these when one of them has hundreds of more flights per day....as for the service i hear it is rather good actually.

I'm only passing you what they told me. Besides, if we are aware of the politican situation of the country, and that they have problems finding a reliable source of fuel... i'd give them my credit.



Flying Together
User currently offlineLxlgu From South Africa, joined Sep 2000, 1085 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (5 years 11 months 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 2682 times:

Alec!
Um no longer code share with QM to LLW
It seems they also do not fly via Malawi to London any more-hence the code share is
terminated

Cheers!
Yony


25 Aio86 : I flew with UM from JNB to VFA nonstop in July 2007. It was operated by an MA-60. The ride was quite comfortable and professional, and ran even though
26 AirNovaBAe146 : Hi Alex, Unfortunately in my nearly 3 years in DRC, I have not had the chance to take a flight on Hewa Bora. However I did take a Bravo Air Congo fli
27 Post contains links and images AirNovaBAe146 : That is true. Check this website for the reviews of some very annoyed Air Zimbabwe travellers: http://www.airlinequality.com/Forum/air-zimb.htm Howev
28 AlexEU : Hi! Which means that pax flying JNB-FIH have to go out of plane in FBM to clear customs? Flights in Africa are very expensive. Sometimes it's cheaper
29 AirNovaBAe146 : I'm not certain where exactly they do DRC customs. You could do DRC exit customs in FIH, and the FBM paxs could do exit paperwork there before boardi
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