17 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Unsafe Air Zimbabwe Banned From Europe

Photo: Beda Msimbe/Daily News
Air Zimbabwe aircraft.

Air Zimbabwe has been placed on the European Union Air Safety List for failure to comply with safety standards expected from airlines flying into the Eurozone.

The list means the struggling Air Zimbabwe, now being managed by President Robert Mugabe's son in law Simba Chikore, can no longer fly to Europe until it has improves safety standards.

The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for European citizens, which is a top priority of the Aviation Strategy adopted by the Commission in December 2015.

While all airlines certified in Benin and Mozambique were cleared from the list after improvements to the aviation safety situation, Air Zimbabwe was added together with Med-View (Nigeria), Mustique Airways (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and Aviation Company Urga (Ukraine).

"They were added to the list due to unaddressed safety deficiencies that were detected by the European Aviation Safety Agency during the assessment for a third country operator authorization," said the EU commission in a statement on Tuesday.

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "I am glad that we are able to take all carriers from Benin and Mozambique out of the air safety list. Their reforms have paid off.

"This is also a signal to the 16 countries that remain on the list. It shows that work and cooperation pays off. The Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency are ready to assist them and raise the safety standards worldwide."

The embattled national airline is struggling to pay millions in air taxes and other obligations. At Independence in 1980 Air Zimbabwe boasted a fleet of 18 aircraft but is now nearly grounded with just three functional planes.

The blow comes as the flag carrier airline recently told parliament that it was on the verge of closing a deal with a foreign investor.

Media reports also indicated the airline was planning to lease two planes from Malaysia but the deal reportedly fell through.

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