Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo was temporarily closed on Tuesday night after the Traffic Control Tower was struck by lightning, resulting in a blackout which affected lighting on the runway. The closure of the airport affected an Air Zimbabwe plane from Harare, which aborted landing and made a U-turn back to the capital. The same plane was supposed to depart back to the capital the same night if it had landed.
Flights resumed yesterday after technicians at the airport attended to the fault. Airport manager Mr Edmore Murungweni said the technical fault was caused by lightning. "A bolt of lighting struck at around 6pm yesterday and this affected our runway lights," he said. "Matabeleland has been going through some adverse weather conditions and such weather tends to take a toll on equipment at times."
Mr Murungweni said technicians tried to work on the problem on Tuesday, but failed to fix it until yesterday morning. "For the safety of the passengers, the plane from Harare aborted landing and as such there was no flight to Harare on Tuesday night," he said. "A plane cannot land on an unlit runway as doing so puts the lives of passengers at risk."
Mr Murungweni said the situation was back to normal and all facilities were now fully operational. "Our teams worked round the clock and all is in order now," he said. "All operations have resumed and I would like to urge all potential travellers to go ahead and book their flights as we have managed to rectify the problem." Mr Murungweni described the incident as a natural disaster, which was beyond human control.