JOHANNESBURG- Air Zimbabwe has been barred from using South Africa’s airports.
Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) confirmed the suspension took effect on Tuesday.
Insiders at Air Zimbabwe told TimesLIVE that one of the national airline’s aircraft, a Boeing 767-200, was seized at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday.
This comes as Air Zimbabwe was suspended from using the airport due to non-payment of debt.
As a cash client, the airline was required to pay on each Monday the amounts owing for landing fees, parking fees and the passenger service charge for its weekly flights.
Due to the suspension by Acsa, Air Zimbabwe could not operate its Johannesburg-Harare flight on Wednesday and this resulted in some passengers failing to travel while others were accommodated on other airlines.
The seizure of Air Zimbabwe’s aircraft in South Africa, which is the airline’s only operational aircraft after all of its planes were grounded, forced it to cancel its Harare-Johannesburg flight on Thursday, including its domestic flights between Harare-Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
It said the airline owes it an undisclosed amount of money.
Acsa said that Air Zimbabwe had not adhered to the cash basis terms for using its airports.
Air Zimbabwe spokesperson Tafadzwa Mazonde confirmed the seizure of the aircraft and stated that airline officials were engaging Acsa to release the aircraft.
“That’s what is happening. It’s a temporary suspension over a cumulative debt. We are in discussion with our shareholder and we are hopeful that we will find a solution,” said Mazonde.
“As a cash client, Air Zimbabwe is required to settle on each Monday the amounts owing for landing fees, parking fees and the passenger service charge for its weekly flights, as well as an amount towards settling arrears on its account,” Acsa spokesperson Trevor Jones told eNCA.
“The company informed Air Zimbabwe by letter on 18 October that it will not be allowed to depart from any of Airports Company South Africa’s nine airports and that the prohibition will remain in place until outstanding amounts are settled,” Acsa said in a statement according to eNCA.
“The suspension of an airline takes place only after considerable engagement with an airline’s management.”
Apart from Acsa, Air Zimbabwe has over the years had aircraft seized by creditors — including Bid Air Services in South Africa and American General Suppliers in London — for debts which it had neglected to pay.