The Herald (Harare)

1 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Airzim Files U.S.$ 8.5 Million Pig Lawsuit

Photo: Herald
Air Zimbabwe

AIR Zimbabwe is suing the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe for over US$8,5 million for damages after its plane collided with wild pigs on the runway three years ago. The airline's MA60 aircraft collided with the pigs at the Harare International Airport runway in November 2009 as it prepared to take off resulting in the flight from Harare to Bulawayo being cancelled.

The aircraft veered off the runway into bushes and two of the 34 passengers sustained minor injuries.

The plane was extensively damaged.

None of the four-crew members on board was injured.

In its summons filed at the High Court on October 23 this year, Airzim is suing for breach of contract and negligence.

To this end, the national airline is claiming damages in the sum of US$8 519 724 with interest at the prescribed rate from the date of accident to the date of full payment.

It also wants Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe to pay the cost of the lawsuit.

The accident occurred on November 3, 2009.

According to the summons, CAAZ has, among its many functions, the responsibility to maintain safety standards at airports.

It is also duty bound to take necessary measures for the prevention of air traffic accidents at airports and within the country's airspace.

In breach of its obligations, argues Airzim, CAAZ failed to ensure that the runway was free from animals.

Airzim also accused CAAZ of failing to supply their aircraft crew with information concerning the presence of wild pigs on the runway.

"As a consequence of the defendant's breach of its obligations . . . the plaintiff's (Air Zimbabwe) MA-60 aircraft, registration number Z-WPJ collided with wild pigs and sustained extensive damages to its fuselage, its left wing, its nacelle, its left hand main undercarriage, its engine, its left hand number one propeller and its nose leg resulting in the plaintiff incurring damages in the sum of US$8 519 724," read the summons.

The aviation authority has 10 days to respond to the claim after receiving the summons.

If it fails to file a notice to defend, Airzim's claim will be heard and dealt with by the High Court without further notice.

Mr Sternford Moyo of Scanlen and Holderness law firm is acting for Airzim.

After the accident, Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche, his permanent secretary, Airzim staff and CAAZ officials visited the scene where the aviation authority promised to investigate circumstances "leading to the accident in liaison with Air Zimbabwe, the aircraft and engine manufacturers".

Minister Goche emphasised Airzim's safety record and paid tribute to the crew for its professional handling of the accident.

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