The European Union has added Zimbabwe to its blacklist of airlines banned from flying over its skies.
According to the Seattle Times, Air Zimbabwe planes do not meet EU safety standards.
Air Zimbabwe was added on Tuesday to the list together with Nigeria’s Med-View, Mustique Airways of St. Vincent and the Granadines and Ukraine’s aviation company, Urga.
There are 181 airlines from 16 nations currently banned from EU skies, while an additional six can only fly to the 28 EU-member states using certain types of aircraft.
The EU removed all airlines from Benin and Mozambique from its air safety blacklist after the companies addressed the bloc’s safety concerns, according to the Seattle Times.
The EU blacklist is regarded as a major business incentive for airlines to uphold safety standards.
Reacting to the ban, Zimbabwe’s Transport Minister, Joram Gumbo, said the EU informed airline management and government officials in a meeting recently about its safety violations.
“On the 26th and 27th of April we were called to go and explain to the European Union Commission on Safety what the situation was with Air Zimbabwe, which we did. We were not the only one. There were three or so countries from Europe also and I think two from Africa called to the same meeting.
“We were pleased that out of some of the conditions the European Union wanted us to fulfill only two were the ones that were critical which they put at level one and two. These were that we were not maintaining properly our aircraft and we agreed that that was the position because what they look at is whether you are following up as per the manual all the maintenance records and to maintain them as per what is required.”
He said, “If you don’t do what you are supposed to do by a week or so, you it’s already a mistake or fault and that is where we faulted.”
He said Zimbabwe is pleased to note that it has been given some time to correct its mistakes.
He noted that Air Zimbabwe was also condemned for not computerizing its records.
Air Zimbabwe is saddled with a debt of over $300 million, which led to the seizure of some of its planes by creditors in Britain, South Africa and USA.