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Troubled Air Zimbabwe Grounds Domestic Flights, Job Action Continues

  • Gibbs Dube

Airline management grounded the Boeing 737-500 servicing the Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route after it developed an engine problem. The airline’s engineers are not reporting for duty in protest of non-payment of salaries.

In the latest chapter in the Air Zimbabwe crisis, the national carrier on Wednesday suspended all domestic flights after its sole local aircraft developed technical problems leaving scores of passengers stranded in various cities.

Airline management grounded the Boeing 737-500 servicing the Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route after it developed an engine problem. The airline’s engineers are not reporting for duty in protest of non-payment of salaries. Air Zimbabwe owes creditors more than $140 million.

The airline grounded planes to London and South Africa recently due to fears that its craft might be impounded by impatient creditors. It now flies to Kinshasa, Congo, and Beijing, China.

Parliamentary Transport Committee Chairman Blessing Chebundo told VOA's Violet Gonda that government has largely contributed to the downfall of the airline, adding it has still to implement recommendations made by his committee which include re-capitalizing Air Zimbabwe and overhauling its management.

“It’s a sorry state that the country is actually observing," Chebundo said. "If you let Air Zimbabwe go down like we have witnessed with Zambia it is going to be very difficult to then come again and say we are going to resuscitate the whole institution, and yet we need it. It has to carry the national flag.”

Economic commentator Bekithemba Mhlanga told Gibbs Dube that Harare is unlikely to bail out the carrier which once again is on the verge of collapse.

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