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Air Zimbabwe Boasts Enviable Safety Record - And Crippling Debt

The airline’s debt has been piling up, reaching US$140 million recently as the government maintains a tight management grip on the carrier

Air Zimbabwe has an enviable safety record as well as skilled pilots, engineers and support staff, but questionable management has left the state carrier deep in debt and on the verge of collapse, such that observers say that only a strategic buyout can rescue it.

The carrier's debt has been accumulating over the past few years in particular, reaching US$140 million recently as government maintains its tight grip. It also owes its employees more than US$35 million in unpaid salaries and allowances dating back to 2009.

Harare proposed in 2009 to partially privatize the company, but the ZANU-PF side of the government does not want to lose control of what it calls a strategic national entity.

Aviation experts and economists said privatization is the only way out for Air Zimbabwe though the government is headed in the other way with its program of indigenization or nationalization in the name of black economic empowerment.

VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube reported on the crisis at Air Zimbabwe, which was placed under court management late last week.