Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
NATIONAL airline, Air Zimbabwe’s operations have been crippled following the breakdown of eight of its planes, leaving only two servicing all its routes leading to delays and postponement of flights.
Air Zimbabwe has a total of 10 aeroplanes but as of yesterday only two were operating, drawing complaints from passengers due to flight inconsistencies and delays.
Over the past few weeks, there has been incessant delays and postponement of flights mainly attributed to shortage of foreign currency to buy spare parts.
Air Zimbabwe spokesperson, Mr Tafadzwa Mazonde, said most of their fleet is grounded due to shortage of spares.
“In total the company has a fleet of about 10 aircraft and currently as of today (yesterday) two are flying. The others are mainly down as a result of foreign currency shortages to pay for the spares.
“One airbus had payment instructions sent to the bank last year and no payment has gone through to the supplier until now,” said Mr Mazonde
He said the company was working on acquiring a new fleet of planes.
“The delays are mainly because of lack of equipment. Considering our route network we are operating with the few planes that we have and as a result that has put a strain on our ability to satisfy our clients,” said Mr Mazonde.
“It’s only the issue of equipment; if we had equipment we could deploy all the other planes. Right now we’ve got two big planes. As management we are mobilising resources and trying to engage people that can give us planes because the purchase of an aircraft is done as a joint effort between the company and Government as a major shareholder. We are working together on that front. Very soon we will be doing something”.
He said the process of acquiring equipment needs the support of their shareholder because of the amounts of money involved.
Turning to speculation that their pilots were on a go slow, Mr Mazonde said it was not true but the available pilots were working overtime with the available planes.
“There is no go slow or strike which we as management have been told. Our pilots are actually working overtime considering their numbers. All things being equal they should be okay but the other pilots are there but their planes are not flying so as a result it puts a strain on those that are flying.
An aeroplane is different from a bus where you can jump from an AVM into a Volvo,” said Mr Mazonde.
He said pilots were putting extra effort but working within the permissible limits and regulated times as specified by aviation regulations.
Mr Mazonde said the delays were not specific to any flights per se.
“There is no flight that we can say we are sacrificing to frustrate those passengers. We can’t say we are sacrificing people from Bulawayo, Harare or Joburg,” he said.
Some time last week, passengers intending to travel to Harare left Joshua Mqabuko Airport around midnight despite having checked in around six hours earlier. — @AuxiliaK