Saturday, December 17, 2011

Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200: Auction of impounded airline plane deferred

THE Transport Ministry says it is “frantically looking for money” to recover a national airline jet impounded over debts in Britain.

The Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200 was seized at London’s Gatwick airport on Monday by a United States company, American General Supplies for arrears of US$1,5 million for spare parts and maintenance equipment.

Transport Minister Nicholas Goche says an auction of the plane that had been scheduled for yesterday won’t go ahead while negotiations continue between the airline and its creditors.

“We hope to get the money soon,” he says.

Another plane was impounded for several hours in South Africa last week by a ground handling firm that the troubled airline owes US$500 000.

The State-owned airline has had financial problems for years and many workers have not been paid for six months.

Board chairperson, Jonathan Kadzura, blames the situation on the Ministry of Finance and the power-sharing government.

“From our part we are very clear that this issue is political and we are hoping that the Finance Minister Tendai Biti will be able to see what we mean when we say he should support the parastatal. Surely the government has the capacity to pay the outstanding US$1,2 million debt,” said Kadzura.

Biti, a member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party, has refused to make unscheduled payments to Air Zimbabwe, until it presents a full accounting of its expenditures and a business plan to return to profitability.

More seizures are possible, warned others close to the airline.

Another international company, ASECNA has already secured a court ruling in France over which it could impound Air Zimbabwe's airplanes due to an overdue debt.

Once rated as one of the best airlines in Africa, Air Zimbabwe has been run down due to successive years of mismanagement.

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