Five firms have shown an interest in investing in Air Zimbabwe (UM, Harare International), company sources have told the Harare-based Business Times newspaper. In November last year, caretaker administrator Grant Thornton Chartered Accountants issued a Requests For Proposals (RFP) in which it sought to test investors' appetite for the debt-ridden national airline.

Company sources told Business Times last week that Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa International) was among the five firms that had submitted concrete proposals.

“Five investors have expressed interest in investing in Air Zimbabwe and they are all being considered. Ethiopian Airlines is among those that expressed interest so all the bids are still being evaluated,” a source said.

Ethiopian had earlier indicated that it would invest in Air Zimbabwe and transform its Harare facilities into a regional MRO hub.

Earlier this month, Air Zimbabwe chairman Patrick Chinamasa confirmed to The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper that Knighthood Capital had also submitted an offer. The Netherlands-based firm was established in 2017 by former Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi International) chief executive James Hogan and a group of other investors with a view to building a global aviation-based investment portfolio.

"I can confirm that there has been contact from that company. They were here last month [June] and we held meetings with them, but it would be premature now to give details as negotiations are still ongoing. We will disclose them at the right time," Chinamasa said.

However, a senior Zimbabwean government official who attended Knighthood's presentation and who spoke to the paper on condition anonymity said the firm's proposal had centred on helping Air Zimbabwe secure leased aircraft in order to resume international flights.

"As government, we told them they were welcome to submit their written proposals and we also availed to them AirZim-related information which they took with them back to their country. We expect to hear from them anytime soon," the official said.