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Cash-Strapped Air Zimbabwe Suspends Flights To UK As Well As S. Africa

  • Gibbs Dube

American General Supplies recently impounded an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200 at London's Gatwick Airport and held it until the airline settled a $1.5 million account for spares and other equipment

Air Zimbabwe has suspended all flights to London where one of its planes was recently impounded by an American aviation firm to which the carrier owed $1.5 million, following its recent move halting flights to Johannesburg, South Africa, for financial reasons.

Air Zimbabwe chairman Jonathan Kadzura told Studio 7 that the airline no longer has the capacity to service the Harare-London and Harare-Johannesburg routes.

But critics said the cessation of Harare-London flights is intended to keep Air Zimbabwe planes out of the hands of creditors who might impound them on British soil.

Kadzura said flights to South Africa remain suspended as the airline is still negotiating with ground handling firm Bid Air Services to settle an overdue debt of $500,000.

The airline will maintain flights to China, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

American General Supplies recently impounded an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200 and held it until the airline settled a $1.5 million account for spares and other equipment.

Kadzura said the Harare unity government does not want to rescue the national airline. However, the government has bailed out the airline twice in recent memory.

Political analyst Alex Magaisa told reporter Violet Gonda that no credible airline survives solely on government handouts, so Air Zimbabwe needs to do some rebranding and to be honest about its financial status.

Magaisa said mismanagement is a major problem, noting that staff made redundant by the airline a decade ago, are still receiving discounted tickets for international travel.

"I am not saying that is the only problem but certainly some of the decisions that were made in the past were poor decisions and they need to be looked into to see how the airline can survive,” Magaisa said.

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