An Air Zimbabwe (UM, Harare Int'l) plan to lease a quartet of B777-200(ER)s from a Malaysia-based lessor is in jeopardy over a lack of financing Zimbabwe's NewsDay has reported.

Quoting sources close to the deal, the paper reports the Zimbabwean government-owned carrier has failed to source the requisite foreign currency needed to secure the aircraft and thus deploy them into service under the Zimbabwe Airways (Harare Int'l) brand.

“Most of the groundwork had been done and what was left was Air Zimbabwe to pay to activate the lease but the airline does not have the money and the shareholder (government) for now has no capacity,” a source told the newspaper.

Though never officially confirmed, Zimbabwe Airways was reported to be a NewCo intended to allow moribund Air Zimbabwe to relaunch itself albeit without its significant debt burden. The four ex-Malaysia Airlines (MH, Kuala Lumpur Int'l) B777s were to be used in relaunching longhaul flights from Harare Int'l to London Gatwick and the Far East, a fete Air Zimbabwe had avoided given the likelihood of aircraft seizures on its arrival in the United Kingdom in particular.

In August, Zimbabwean Minister of Transport, Joram Gumbo, cast doubt over the entire project when he confirmed that ahead of the lease's enforcement, Air Zimbabwe's debt, said to stand at USD300 million, would have to be addressed first.

"We don't have money to buy new planes," he told The Zimbabwe Standard. "If we had money, we would have bought already. I said we want to have a partnership, but in pursuing this partnership, I am yet to conclude the deal, because I have to deal with the AirZim debt, which I have placed before Cabinet."

"If I am successful in getting that debt taken over by government, then I will be in a good position to negotiate with those I can have a partnership with."