Air Zimbabwe has inducted its latest acquisition into its fleet this past Monday, January 20th 2020. The new acquisition which is in fact a 2004-build Boeing 777-200ER is carrying great hope that the country’s national carrier will finally end years of financial trouble.
Shortly after its arrival at Harare’s Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, the 15 years old aircraft who will operate with a new Zimbabwe registration Z-RGM, was shown to the country’s President.
Z-RGM arrives only a year after South African creditors had seized financially troubled Air Zimbabwe sole remaining aircraft. However Z-RGM carries a bit of troubled history itself. Initially registered as 9M-MRP when first delivered brand new to Malaysia Airlines in 2004, the aircraft was part of a fleet of 17 Boeing 777-200ER forming the backbone of the carrier’s long haul fleet up until 2014 when tragedy struck two of its sister ship. First it was the as yet unresolved disappearence of 9M-MRO on March 8th, 2014 presumably while flying over the Indian Ocean on Kuala Lumpur-Peking flight. Then it was the destruction by a surface to air missile of 9M-MRD as it was cruising over war-embattled Ukrainian territory on July 17th 2014. With the loss of all 239 people on board of 9M-MRO, and 298 people on board of 9M-MRD, Malaysia Airlines would soonafter decide to terminate altogether all fleet-wide 777 operations.
According to zimlive.com, Air Zimbabwe began to show interest in acquiring one or more of the newly parked Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 began as early as 2016, with then-President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, allegedly taking an active part in the discussions.
The zimlive.com article claims that four of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER had been pitched for sale to Air Zimbabwe. At the time, the two older 2001-built aircraft 9M-MRL and 9M-MRM would be sold for $16.5 million a piece, while the two aircraft registered 9M-MRP and 9M-MRQ both built in 2004 were negotiated at approximately $18.5 million.
With the arrival of 9M-MRQ pending, 9M-MRP will operate under its new Z-RGM registration, after having been re-christened Robert Mugabe as a tribute to the late president efforts.