Air Zimbabwe passengers stranded at London's Gatwick International Airport for a week were evicted Monday from hotel where they had been booked since last Wednesday, owing to non-payment of accommodation bills by the cash-strapped airline.
Passengers said hotel booking agents for Air Zimbabwe and other airlines told Hilton Hotel to close the bookings until the state airline pays US$259,000.
The passengers said the airline has not been paying hotel bills following the impounding a week earlier of an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200 by American General Supplies of the United States. The firm was owed US$1.5 million for aircraft spare parts.
David Mwenga, Air Zimbabwe manager for Europe, said the situation is tense at Gatwick Airport. “Our clients are not happy with what is going on and nobody wants to be in such a harsh situation,” Mwenga said.
Radio personality Ezra Sibanda, spokesman for the stranded passengers, said they are now camping at Air Zimbabwe’s offices in London.
One passenger who declined to be identified said the situation is getting out of control at Gatwick. “All we need is to go home, nothing else,” the passenger said.