Air Zimbabwe halts flights to S.Africa over debts

December 16, 2011
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Air Zimbabwe owes Bid Air of South Africa $500,000/FILE
HARARE, Dec 16 – Zimbabwe’s national airline has suspended flights to neighbouring South Africa over a debt of $500,000, fearing creditors might impound more of its planes, state media said on Friday.

“We are not flying into South Africa. We are trying to secure funding to pay our debts in South Africa,” Innocent Mavhunga, Air Zimbabwe’s acting chief executive, told The Herald newspaper.

According to the report, Air Zimbabwe owes Bid Air of South Africa $500,000 in handling services charges that have accrued over the years.

“We are, however, still flying into (Zambia’s capital) Lusaka and Lumbumbashi (in DR Congo) as usual,” said Mavhunga.

On Monday, American General Supplies seized Air Zimbabwe’s Boeing 767-200 at London’s Gatwick airport on over unpaid fees of $1.5 million.

The airline had to cancel the flight and reimburse stranded passengers.

Air Zimbabwe has accrued a huge debt of over $140 million, according to The Herald.

The airline, already struggling to pay its workforce and facing mounting fuel shortages, needs about $40 million to clear some of its debts, Mavhunga told state media this week.

In June this year, the airline cancelled flights to London and South Africa after gas companies stopped supplies over non-payment.

Air Zimbabwe’s ageing operational fleet now consists of two B767-200s, three B737-200s and three MA60s.

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