23 February 2012

Zimbabwe: Air Zimbabwe Vanishes From the Skies Indefinitely

Photo: Herald
Airzim plane.

Air Zimbabwe flights will continue to be off the radar after the airline indefinitely suspended its operations.

The troubled airline vanished from the skies late last year following a series of strikes by its workers, including pilots protesting non-payment of their salaries and allowances.

Workers from the national carrier have not received salaries since September 2011 and are owed over US$35 million. Acting CEO Innocent Mavhunga, confirmed to the state media on Thursday the indefinite suspension of all flights, blaming it on cash flow problems.

'We failed to resume flights as planned on Monday as we still have challenges relating to payment of salaries. Part of our workers did not report for duty. We are now grounded indefinitely,' Mavhunga said.

There are reports management are to blame for the latest debacle after consulting pilots only, and not all the other workers, when they announced plans to resume flights on Monday. A member of the National Air Workers Union said they only read about the resumption of flights in the newspapers.

The ongoing crisis comes as a new airline has started operating into the country. Emirates made its maiden voyage to Harare early this month. The airline flies between Harare, Lusaka and Dubai five times a week.

Air Zimbabwe's future now looks uncertain, as a new local airline has been granted a licence by the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe. Sol Air is expected to service the Harare to Bulawayo and Harare to Victoria Falls routes.

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