BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ)’s failure to maintain the country’s airports has come under spotlight after a Bulawayo-bound Fastjet airline was forced to abort landing at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport and had to fly back to Harare on Tuesday due to faulty lights on the runaway.
NewsDay understands that Fastjet Zimbabwe flight FN8445 from Harare to Bulawayo failed to land and was forced to return to Harare due to poor lighting on the runway.
Fastjet flight number FN 8446 from Bulawayo to Harare also failed to take off due to the same reason, leaving passengers stranded.
CAAZ chief executive officer David Chawota confirmed the incidents yesterday.
“There were no lights at the airport on that night. It was because of power failure, but the problem was rectified yesterday (Wednesday),” he said.
The airline confirmed the incident on its Facebook page.
“Fastjet Zimbabwe confirms that this evening’s flights FN8445 from Harare to Bulawayo and FN 8446 from Bulawayo to Harare have been cancelled to unserviceable runaway lights at Bulawayo,” the post read.
The airline has since rescheduled flights for the affected clients, at no cost. This not the first time the airport has been affected by lighting problems.
In 2017, the airport was temporarily closed after the traffic control tower was struck by lightning, resulting in a blackout affecting lighting on the runway.
The closure of the airport also affected an Air Zimbabwe plane from Harare, which aborted landing and made a U-turn back to the capital.
Former Transport minister Joram Gumbo in 2015 lamented the state of the Bulawayo airport, saying the facility was substandard despite a pricy upgrade of $25 million that has dragged on for over a decade. This year, a Chinese contractor is expected to resume renovations at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport.
The airport has the capacity to handle 1,5 million passengers and was commissioned in 2013.