Fuel shortage grounds Zimbabwe jets

Zimbabwe's national carrier has grounded its entire fleet and suspended the airline's boss after running out of fuel, a state-run daily says.

    Zimbabwe has experienced fuel shortages in the past five years

    "All flights were cancelled until further notice owing to a dearth of jet A1 fuel, inconveniencing hundreds of passengers," The Herald reported on Tuesday.

    The newspaper said the Air Zimbabwe board had suspended chief executive Tendai Mahachi and company secretary
    Tendai Mujuru "pending investigations into serious disruptions of the national airliner's operations and services".

    Stranded and frustrated passengers were milling around the Harare International Airport departure lounges after Air Zimbabwe cancelled all its flights on Monday, The Herald said.

    Among those affected were passengers travelling to Johannesburg, Kampala, Singapore, Malawi, Zambia and the tourist resort of Victoria Falls.

    "I have actually lost business today," the newspaper quoted a passenger as saying.

    "I was supposed to be doing something profitable but I am stranded here and I am going to incur a lot of costs. You can't even plan when you are flying on Air Zimbabwe."

    Maladministration

    Air Zimbabwe's fortunes have been flagging in recent years because of critical shortages of fuel and spares and allegations of maladministration including plying non-profitable routes.

    "I was supposed to be doing something profitable but I am stranded here and I am going to incur a lot of costs. You can't even plan when you are flying on Air Zimbabwe"

    Stranded passenger

    Early this year the airline flew one passenger from Harare to Dubai on a plane that can carry 200 passengers.

    In July, it cancelled some of its domestic and international flights because of fuel shortages and lack of spares for its Boeing planes.

    Zimbabwe has been experiencing fuel shortages in the past five years blamed on shortages of hard currency.

    Air Zimbabwe officials told The Herald that spares for some of its planes had been phased out by the manufacturer, Boeing.

    Following sanctions and isolation by Western countries over the political crisis in the country, Zimbabwe has adopted a "look East" policy, fostering close relations with Asian countries, particularly China, Malaysia and Singapore.

    In April, Air Zimbabwe took delivery of three MA60 passenger planes from China's state-owned AVIC aircraft manufacturer.

    SOURCE: AFP


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