BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Air Zimbabwe passengers booked on flights from either Harare to Bulawayo or from Johannesburg to Harare on Sunday were stranded for hours after the struggling airline failed to service the routes on time.
Operating with one aircraft for both domestic and regional routes, passengers who intended to fly to Bulawayo were left stranded at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, while those who were flying from South Africa waited for more than 16 hours at OR Tambo International Airport before they were collected after 10pm.
Air Zimbabwe corporate affairs head Tafadzwa Mazonde said the only aircraft running at the State-owned airline had undergone maintenance and was not ready in time for the scheduled flights.
“It was an unfortunate day yesterday (Sunday). Our remaining plane had to undergo maintenance, which failed to finish on the scheduled time,” he said.
Mazonde said the situation had improved and they now awaited delivery of a second aircraft at the end of the month.
In January, the airline suspended its flights up to mid-month because its only functional plane was also undergoing maintenance.
The airline, which has largely been operating only two serviceable aircraft, was left with one plane following the grounding of its popular Boeing 737-200 ER, named Mbuya Nehanda last year.
The remaining aircraft, the 767-200ER, also known as Chimanimani, was now being forced to service all its regional and local routes, with hopes of getting another plane at the end of March.
Mbuya Nehanda serviced the Harare /Bulawayo /Victoria Falls /Harare as well as Harare /Dar es Salaam route, while Chimanimani serviced South Africa.