Fly Africa Zimbabwe (FZW, Harare Int'l) may be forced to further delay its full operational launch following the initiation of a lawsuit by the former majority shareholders of the carrier's predecessor, Nu-Aero (Pvt) Ltd, trading as Zimbabwe flyafrica.

It is recalled that Nu-Aero (Pvt) Ltd was a 49/51 joint-venture between flyafrica Ltd, a Mauritius-based investment vehicle, and Nu.com (Pvt) Ltd, a Zimbabwean company owned by the politically-connected Chakanyuka Karase. The partnership ended acrimoniously in October 2015 when flyafrica Ltd filed serious fraud and theft charges totalling more than USD140,000 against a Karase family member before suspending Nu.com as its local partner for breach of directorial and fiduciary duties. Karase then surrendered the airline's AOC to the Zimbabwean authorities following which it suspended all operations.

Following that move, flyafrica Ltd then exercised a default call-option in the Nu-Aero shareholder's agreement that required Nu.com to sell to flyafrica all its shares within the time frame stipulated in the clause. When Karase and Nu.com did not respond to the notice, the Mauritian firm automatically assumed ownership of its shares. Following the debacle, flyafrica Ltd's parent, flyafrica Holdings, sold Nu-Aero to another Zimbabwean firm, Low Cost Enterprises (Pvt) Limited, which has been trying to relaunch the airline under the Fly Africa Zimbabwe (FZW, Harare Int'l) brand.

According to Zimbabwean High Court documents seen by The Financial Gazette newspaper, it is this development that prompted Karase and Nu.com to apply to seek a declaratory order which, if given, would confirm that Nu.com is still the 51% shareholder in Nu-Aero and therefore part of the new Fly Africa Zimbabwe venture.

Karase and his company claim that they never sold their shares to Flyafrica Ltd and argue that such a suggestion "is untrue, unlawful and mischievous". They also allege that the take-over did not comply with Zimbabwe's Companies Act legislation as well as the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

For its part, Low Cost Enterprises (Pvt) Limited is owned entirely by Mugwagwa Resources, a which is itself owned by one Cassidy Mugwagwa.

Despite having reportedly injected USD8 million into Flyafrica Zimbabwe, the carrier has yet to fully commence operations. B737-500 ZS-TGY (msn 25183), which was wet-leased in July his year, has since been returned to its South African lessor, Africa Charter Airline (FSK, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) with no commercial services having been operated since then. Mugwagwa told the Financial Gazette in an interview last month that plans to resume flights on August 21 were unsuccessful after Fly Africa Zimbabwe failed to secure an agreement with airline IT services provider, SITA, in time.