Nqobile Tshili Chronicle Correspondent
AIR Zimbabwe yesterday cancelled its flight from Bulawayo to Johannesburg, South Africa, leaving scores of passengers stranded. It was supposed to leave Bulawayo at 12noon but by 7PM it had not left. Some of the passengers told The Chronicle that the airline had promised to book them into hotels in Harare last night.
They claimed that Air Zimbabwe flew a smaller plane which could not accommodate all the passengers, hence some were left from the Johannesburg flight. Disgruntled passengers complained that Air Zimbabwe had greatly inconvenienced them as some had connecting flights after reaching South Africa, while others had cancelled business meetings in the neighbouring country.
Air Zimbabwe spokesperson Shingai Dhliwayo said she was on leave so could not shed light on the cancellation of the flight. When a Chronicle news crew arrived at the airport at about 5PM, scores of passengers were waiting to be picked up for Harare and said Air Zimbabwe should improve its communication with its clients.
“They never officially communicated the problem. We could only eavesdrop as other passengers were saying our flight had been cancelled. This prompted me to go and find out for myself what had transpired. That’s when we were told that the captain of the bigger air bus wasn’t feeling well so they could only fly a smaller one which couldn’t accommodate all the passengers,” said Bongiwe Zililo.
Another passenger who declined to be named said most passengers got agitated after learning that their flight had been cancelled. “People got mad after learning that their flight had been delayed. Initially they seemed shocked, confused and frustration started creeping in before they became very angry but eventually they calmed as it was clear that nothing was happening,” said the passenger.
She said those who had connecting flights were the worst affected as they had to buy emergency tickets from Air Link. “Some people were travelling to America and the United Kingdom so they couldn’t miss their flights so they were forced to buy tickets from Air Link costing over $430.
“Others went back home and there was a woman who was travelling with her nurse who was also forced to abort the flight because of delays” she said. Another Air Zimbabwe client Frederick Mitchell said the airline had forced some of them to cancel their business meetings.
“The point of flying is that we get to our desired destinations in time. If we wanted to spend the whole day travelling we could have easily bought bus tickets. This is grossly inappropriate. We deserve an apology and proper explanation of today’s events,” said Mitchell.