Air Zimbabwe cancelled flights from Harare to Bulawayo and Victoria Falls on Tuesday after one of its planes suffered an engine fault.
Insiders at the national airline, which was plagued by several woes in 2011, told Radio VOP that flights to Bulawayo, the country’s second largest country and to the resort town of Victoria Falls were cancelled after the airline’s aircraft; a Boeing 737-500 developed an engine fault which could not be fixed because workers are not reporting for duty.
The insiders said the engine needs to be replaced and Air Zimbabwe had an option of swapping the engine with that of another Boeing 737-500 which is currently grounded and due for a corrosion check, commonly known as ‘’C check”. But the airline could not fix the aircraft due to the absence of engineers who are not reporting for work because they don’t have “cash to come to work”.
“There are no more flights as we speak. We are totally grounded now,” said one of the insiders, who could not be named as she is not authorised to speak on behalf of the struggling airline.
Air Zimbabwe board chairperson Jonathan Kadzura confirmed the grounding of the aircraft. “It developed a technical fault that we are dealing with.”
A personal assistant to Air Zimbabwe’s acting chief executive officer, Innocent Mavhunga said the national airline’s boss, who is presiding over the collapse of what was once one of Africa’s best national airlines could not take calls as he was locked in a management meeting.
The grounded aircraft is just one of the two planes that are operational at the moment together with a Boeing 767-200, while the other aircrafts including the Chinese-made Modern Arch 60 are grounded due to technical faults.
The cancellation of domestic flights follows the suspension of some regional and international flights such as Johannesburg and London as the airline attempts to evade the seizure of its planes over debts.
Last month two of Air Zimbabwe’s planes, a Boeing 737-500 and a Boeing 767-200 were seized in South Africa and the United Kingdom by Bid Air Services and American General Supplies over debts amounting to US$500 000 and US$1.2 million respectively.