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Air Zimbabwe Clears US$1.5 Million Debt, Awaits Release of Impounded Craft

Stranded Air Zimbabwe passengers in London said the carrier started paying ticket refunds late Monday - but not all passengers received full refunds as those who used brokers saw fees deducted

The US aviation firm that impounded an Air Zimbabwe aircraft at Gatwick International Airport in London on December 12, stranding 200 passengers, said Tuesday that Air Zimbabwe has paid what it owes and its plane will soon be released.

But technical problems could further delay the Boeing's takeoff for Harare.

American General Supplies Marketing Director Kenneth Conor said the company’s lawyers in London have received payment for spare parts and related equipment purchased on credit by Air Zimbabwe between 2009 and this year.

Conor said Air Zimbabwe is currently seeking help to fix technical problems that have extended the grounding of the plane.

Meanwhile, stranded Air Zimbabwe passengers in London said the carrier started paying ticket refunds Monday night. But there remained some confusion and dismay because passengers who bought tickets directly from the airline were being repaid in full while those who purchased through agents received less, sources said.

Passenger Ignatius Mwariwangu said he lost US$1,000 in fees on his US$6,000 ticket.

Ezra Sibanda, spokesman for the passengers, said it is unlikely that any of the stranded passengers will get home this week. “The situation is pathetic at Gatwick as stranded passengers who have not been received ticket refunds have nowhere to go,” he said.

Air Zimbabwe Manager for Europe David Mwenga said he believes the impounded plane would be released late Tuesday.