Air Zimbabwe decay shocks MPs

The national airline, Air Zimbabwe, remains in a sorry state, flying at 20% passenger capacity despite running a 50% discount promotion.

Members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on State Parastatals and Enterprise Management chaired by Zvishavane Runde MP, Lawrence Mavima toured the airline premises at Harare International Airport yesterday and said they were shocked by the airline’s state of decay.

The tour confirmed the MPs’ worst fears — that the national airline is rotten and difficult to restore.
They all concurred government, as the sole shareholder, needed to intervene with speed.

“Basically, Air Zimbabwe is in a sorry, deplorable state — a state which is unacceptable and as government we should not allow our enterprises to deteriorate to such a level,” said Mavima.

“The premises and facilities are definitely not up to standard and from the tour we saw that employees were very tired, the management is tired, everyone is tired and the only semblance of activity is in the National Handling Services (NHS) section,” said Mavima.

MPs on tour of the premises found litter on the floors of poorly furnished offices sporting tattered and torn carpets in the Central Reservations section.

Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive Innocent Mavhunga told the committee the beleaguered airline had serious challenges, including a $1,2 million debt owed to local and international organisations.

“We are insured, but our insurance premium is running behind and if we do not pay, there is no way we can fly.

“We are flying at the grace of the insurers because we still owe them some money,” said Mavhunga.

Mavhunga said Air Zimbabwe staff had not been paid for four months and in the Machining Department, the workshops manager, Francis Munjoma, said staff were no longer coming to work due to non-payment of salaries.

The committee further established the only profitable strategic business unit at Air Zimbabwe was the NHS, which handled cargo for all 12 airlines flying to Zimbabwe.

Although it has the biggest hangar in the region, the Air Zimbabwe hangar is empty and the touring MPs found only three planes there, all under repair.
Only three out of five planes are flying.

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