Wednesday, January 04, 2012

It never rains, but pours for Air Zimbabwe

Air Zimbabwe is now grounded after its only plane, a Boeing 737, servicing domestic and some regional routes developed a technical glitch on one of its engines on Monday.

Passengers flying from Harare to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls yesterday failed to travel after their flight was cancelled.

Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive officer Innocent Mavhunga could not be reached for comment as he was said to be in a meeting while board chairperson Jonathan Kadzura said:

“I cannot comment on the matter because I am in Mutare right now. I will only be in a position to do so on my return.”

But, an official at the Customer Services Desk yesterday confirmed the Harare-Bulawayo flight had been cancelled.

“There was no flight today because the plane broke down. Maybe tomorrow there will be a flight if they have successfully fixed the plane,” she said.

Insiders said Air Zimbabwe could no longer use its other aircraft, the Boeing 767-200ER, for local flights as it was too expensive to ply the domestic routes.

The Air Zimbabwe sources said the engine developed a fault, but could not be fixed because most of the workers were not reporting for duty.

The bulk of the national carrier employees have not been reporting for duty in protest over non-payment of salaries for nearly six months.

“We have gone for around six months without salaries. How do you expect us to be reporting for duty when we can’t even fend for our families?”

said an employee who requested anonymity.
The workers last month detained the airline’s bosses demanding payment.

The airline owes workers more than $5,6 million in outstanding salaries.

Last month, a United States firm American General Supplies, which supplies the national airline with spares, attached the 767-200ER at Gatwick Airport over a $1,5 million debt.

To compound the airline’s woes, the Boeing 767-200 went on to develop a fault in London and had to be repaired first before flying back home after the debt had been settled.

Transport minister Nicholas Goche has reportedly ordered Air Zimbabwe to suspend all its regional and international flights for fear the national carrier could have its remaining aircrafts attached by debtors.

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