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Fuel dispute grounds Air Zimbabwe
05/11/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
 
 
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AIR Zimbabwe lurched into a new crisis on Friday after announcing a temporary cancellation of international flights over a payment dispute with its fuel suppliers.

The airline, trying to recover from a two-month strike by pilots which paralysed operations between July and September, grounded flights to China and the United Kingdom.

Despite putting its overseas and domestic flights on ice, the state-owned airline, which resumed flights after the government stepped in to settle the pilots’ outstanding allowances and pay, was continuing with its regional flight schedule.

At the heart of the dispute is believed to be a debt running into several hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to its A1 jet fuel suppliers.

In London, Air Zimbabwe’s General Manager for Europe would only confirm that the Harare-London flight scheduled for Sunday, and the return flight scheduled for Monday, had been cancelled.

“We have informed our passengers about this development, and we are very sorry about the cancellations,” said Mwenga, who referred further questions to Harare.

Air Zimbabwe’s acting CEO Innocent Mavhunga was not immediately available for comment on Saturday.

Mavhunga told a parliamentgary committee recently that Air Zimbabwe needs up to US$40 million for recapitalisation and urged the government to take over its US$137,7 million debt, US$112 million of which is owed to local creditors.

There was a wide disparity of up to US$4 million between what the airline was generating and what it was spending monthly, he told MPs.



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