(eTN) – During the week, another of Air Zimbabwe’s planes was impounded at Gatwick airport in London because of unpaid bills. According to reports, the debts amounted to US$1.2 million.
Last week, it was reported that another plane was kept at Johannesburg airport for ground-handling services, with the passengers expected to use a small Mazda vehicle to ferry them and their bags to the terminal, which took a total of 4 hours to complete.
In this recent instance, at Gatwick, the passengers had to walk across the runway and wait 7 hours for their bags.
Air Zimbabwe has been in trouble for months, if not years. The President often uses the planes on his trips to Asia, which has caused complaints from staff and passengers alike, as flights can be cancelled.
The Board Chairman, Jonathan Kadzura, blames the Ministry of Finance for not paying the outstanding bills.
The Ministry of Finance, controlled by Tendai Biti of the MDC, is refusing to make unscheduled payments to Air Zimbabwe until the parastatal presents a full account of its expenditure and also provides a business plan on how it can return to profitability.
According to the news, the passengers for the Gatwick-Harare return flight were still stranded in London as of this past Sunday, after 4 days, because the plane had not been released. Although part of the bill has been paid, there is still a balance and authorities say that the plane will not be allowed to leave until the bill is paid in full.
Meanwhile, Air Zimbabwe has stopped all flights to South Africa. The plane which had been impounded there was released after negotiations of payments to repay the debt. There is nothing on the news to indicate whether these payments have been made.
And these are not the only debts incurred by Air Zimbabwe. There are bills awaiting Air Zim in France where ASECNA has had a ruling in the courts allowing it to impound Air Zim’s planes. There are bills as well to British Airport Transport and American General Supplies for spares.
Air Zimbabwe was once rated one of the best airlines in Africa.