Air Zimbabwe (UM, Harare Int'l) has announced that it has retrenched 200 of its 424 staff as it struggles to keep the airline in business. This is the fourth round of retrenchments in eight years, reports Reuters.

"We were overstaffed by a lot and we are also trying to weed out people without the right qualifications," said the carrier's Chairwoman, Chipo Dyanda. "The retrenchment is meant to give space to the airline so that we can redeploy the money saved back into the company."

According to Nehanda Radio, most of the employees affected were in administrative positions, and all employees have been placed on performance-based contracts. Staff will also be re-trained, "starting with the chief executive officer". No pilots were retrenched in the round.

The restructuring program is also aiming to build Harare Int'l as a travel gateway.

"This restructuring exercise is coming on the backdrop of a strategic plan to give the company a different business model so that Harare is not viewed as a destination but a transit to other parts of the world," Dyanda said.

Despite Air Zimbabwe's financial difficulties, the Zimbabwean government has recently procured a B777-200 for its nascent Zimbabwe Airways (Harare Int'l). Sources quoted by news site Bulawayo say that the government has long planned to shut down Air Zimbabwe and start a brand new airline.