“The transport sector continues to be hamstrung by structural and operational challenges, with the national airline, Air Zimbabwe, being worst affected. The grounding of some Air Zimbabwe planes is a big let-down to the nation, indeed a sad development,” Mugabe said while addressing parliamentarians at the official opening of the fourth session of the parliament of Zimbabwe.
“Government is currently working on short-term measures to guarantee the immediate resumption of flights by the airline. As a medium to long term solution, however, Government is in the process of courting strategic partners for the airline.”
Air Zimbabwe which is battling to operate due to the industrial action by pilots has pledged to refund customers who paid for flights but did not travel due to the strike by pilots, it has emerged.
Air Zimbabwe pilots went on strike weeks ago to press for the payment of their outstanding allowances and salaries back dated for months. Dozens of travellers who paid for air tickets before the strike by the pilots are crying foul as the airline is taking time to refund them.
Innocent Mavhunga, the acting Air Zimbabwe chief executive officers in a statement on Monday said flights by the national carrier remain suspended due to the industrial action by pilots but pledged to find ways to pay-back to clients who had booked with the airline.
“Air Zimbabwe wishes to advise its valued customers that its flights remain suspended due to the industrial action by its pilots. Efforts are underway to find a lasting solution to this challenge. Despite the challenges the airline continues to secure bookings on alternative flights however, due to the increased demand it has not been possible to accommodate everyone in time,”Mavhunga said.
“The airline is committed to continue rerouting and refunding all affected passengers with the assistance of partner travel agents to minimize the inconvenience.”
Air Zimbabwe has a debt overhang of over US$ 100 million after being run down by corruption and charging of sub-economic tariffs.
The airline has an ageing fleet with old Boeing 737-200s, Boeing 767-200s and three MA 60s from china which are grounded. The Boeing 737-200s and 767-200s were bought in the 80s and there have been reports that they are past their life span.
Last week media was awash with reports that Zambian Zambezi airlines were luring some of the experienced pilots to join the regional airline after advertising for posts of pilots at the airline.