Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development says urgent measures are needed to pay back the $4.6 million debt that Air Zimbabwe owes to the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chairperson, Mr Dexter Nduna, who is also the legislator for Chegutu West, said the new Government should prioritise releasing funds to Treasury for Air Zimbabwe to clear its Iata debt.
About two years ago, the Iata debt stood at about $2.7 million and in 2012, the flag carrier was suspended from the global aviation body for failing to meet its financial obligations.
“To date, Treasury has not received that money to settle the Iata debt. So, we are saying the incoming Government needs to put money where its mouth is because aviation is not meant to make a profit but it develops the economy.
“It (aviation) is also a conduit or catalyst for economic development where it can enhance the effectiveness of other sectors like tourism, manufacturing and textile industry, among others,” Mr Nduna said.
“Its effectiveness can be seen in bringing in business from various places and through revamping different economic sectors. Imagine trying to go to Iran or India by bus, it does not happen by road or rail because you need to go overseas.”
By failing to clear Air Zimbabwe’s $4.6 million Iata debt, Nduna said the country was getting wrong priorities and there was no justification for the failure as the debt was a pittance.
“Going forward with the incoming President, I am quite sure this is going to be a thing of the past. We have no kind words for many government and quasi government officials who ignore such a very important key sector in the development of the economy and prioritise other tissues not issues,” he said.
Iata’s system settles accounts between the world’s airlines, airline-associated companies and travel agencies.
“Readmission into Iata will allow Air Zimbabwe passengers on other airlines to destinations, which we do not go ourselves but under the banner of Air Zimbabwe because it will be an aviation industry or partnership one such as the one South Africa airline has with other airlines.
“For instance, KLM or Dutch Airlines transports passengers for United Arab Emirates, which destination the airline does not go up to. If Air Zimbabwe gets re-admitted then it can take advantage of such,” he said.
It is also envisaged that by being a member of the Iata, Zimbabwe would have a robust and resilient economy generating a lot of revenue through the national airline’s operations and belonging to the global aviation body.