Air Zimbabwe has been suspended from the International Air Transport Association for failing to comply with global safety standards, a Cabinet Minister has said. Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche confirmed the development on Tuesday.
He, however, said the national airline was given a grace period of up to November 31 to comply with the standards.
He said the global aviation body recently wrote to Air Zimbabwe communicating the position.
If it fails to meet the deadline, Air Zimbabwe will be banned from using international airports and air spaces of other countries forever.
IATA is a global aviation body that works with airline members and the air transport industry to promote safe, reliable, secure and economical air travel for the benefit of travellers
The world aviation body conducts a biennial Operational Safety Audit, which measures an airline's system of operations, covering the operation of flights, boarding procedures and other aircraft safety matters.
To retain IATA membership, members must submit and pass the audit.
Said Minister Goche: "Air Zimbabwe is at the moment suspended from IATA. However, the national airline was given up to November 31 to carry out the audits. The letter we received is not that bad as they were encouraging us to comply with global safety standards and this we are going to do," he said.
Minister Goche was optimistic the national airline would have put everything in place for the audit before the new deadline.
"Part of the salaries is being paid and staff is back at work and they are now moving at a faster pace. We hope everything will be in place for the re-audit at the end of November," he said.
Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive Mr Innocent Mavhunga also confirmed the development yesterday.
"We were temporarily removed from the register after the lapsing of the window period we were given. We are working flat out, putting all systems in place in preparation for the audit," he said.
The auditors visited Zimbabwe early this year but there was nothing to audit as the airline's workers were on strike.
The audit, done after every two years, is carried out by firms accredited to IATA at the expense of the national airline seeking certification.
The auditors, who come from various countries worldwide, include experts in the global aviation industry such as aircraft engineers, pilots, accountants and cargo operators who are former senior airline workers.
Meanwhile, Minister Goche said the unbundling of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe would be completed before the end of next year.
The parastatal would be split into two arms, one responsible for the regulatory function and the other in charge of operations.
This, Minister Goche said, would ensure efficiency in the local aviation industry.
"The draft bill for the unbundling of the parastatal is currently with the Attorney General and from there it will be taken to Cabinet.
"If approved it will be taken to the Cabinet committee on legislation that is chaired by Minister Patrick Chinamasa," he said.
CAAZ was established in 1999 as a statutory body to replace the former Department of Civil Aviation and operate commercially.