Sol Air (Zimbabwe) (ZS, Harare Int'l) is set to secure investment worth USD100 million from a Hong Kong-based investor amid plans to launch domestic Zimbabwean as well as regional operations.

Sol Air Managing Director Nkosilathi Sibanda told The Zimbabwe Independent last week that he had signed an initial agreement with Yaya Sun in early 2017 wherein USD55 million would have been used to get Sol Air beyond the drawing board and into the skies.

However, Yaya is said to have developed cold feet on concerns about US economic sanctions against Zimbabwe as well as its acute shortage of foreign currency.

According to Sibanda, while the deal has since been resuscitated, timelines for the project's commencement are expected once national elections have been held, set for sometime in July/August.

“We have been requested to review our capital requirements from USD55 in-order to have enough working capital. Our advisors have proposed that we seek USD100 million to be on the safe side and our financiers have indicated their willingness to invest that much and a letter of intent have been issued,” he said.

Sol Air already has an Air Services Licence (ASL) from the Zimbabwean Ministry of Transport and has since moved to secure its AOC from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ).

In 2012, it outlined plans to deploy CRJ-900s on flights connecting Bulawayo, Dar-es-Salaam, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo, Lusaka, Tete, and Victoria Falls but to no avail. Sibanda has also decried Harare's unwillingness to allocate lucrative Harare Int'l-Bulawayo traffic rights to private operators.

Despite a moribund economy, Zimbabwe boasts three carriers: Air Zimbabwe, Fastjet Zimbabwe, and tentatively Fly Africa Zimbabwe (which has filed schedules to resume regular Harare-Johannesburg and Bulawayo-Johannesburg flights using a B737-500 wet-leased from Africa Charter Airline effective April 15).