In a move conducted with classic cloak-and-dagger secrecy, the airline obtained its first jets. On the evening of 14 April 1973, which fell during the Easter holidays, three Boeing 720-025 aircraft which had originally belonged to the now-defunct Eastern Airlines in Miami, suddenly appeared on the radar screens of Salisbury's control tower, landed in quick succession, and immediately taxied away from the public gaze to positions among the buildings on Air Rhodesia's base.
Only a tiny handful of people were in on the secret of this audacious piece of sanctions busting, and they kept their secret well. However, the unconventional manner in which the Boeing 720s had been obtained meant that little of the usual preparatory work and planning that an airline does before taking delivery of a new aircraft type could be done until after delivery.
Years of work, provisioning and training had to be compressed into a few months, and Rhodesia's first commercial flight with a 720, a charter from Salisbury to Bulawayo and Durban, occurred on 6 June 1973, Regular services only started on November 1973.
Unfortunately for the airline, the Yom Kippur war in the Middle East came just at the wrong time: a week after starting scheduled Bocing 720 services fuel prices increased by 35 percent pushing the annual bill up by Rh$820 000! The 720's turbojet engines were much thirstier than later turbofans, and the fuel price increase (the first of several in the next few years) severely curtailed their profitability in Air Rhodesia service.
Dum Romae consulitur, Saguntum expugnatur