AIR Zimbabwe has suspended all its flights to South Africa with management concerned that creditors might try to impound its planes landing at OR Tambo International Airport.
An Airzim plane was this week impounded at London’s Gatwick International Airport over a US$1,5 million debt.#
Air Zimbabwe is now depending on its domestic flights for survival.
The management has made a deliberate decision not to fly Airzim into some countries where there are risks of creditors pouncing on its planes.
Acting Airzim chief executive officer Mr Innocent Mavhunga yesterday confirmed the suspension of flights to South Africa.
Airzim had daily flights in and out of Johannesburg.
“We are not flying into South Africa. We are trying to secure funding to pay our debts in South Africa.
“We are, however, still flying into Lusaka (Zambia) and Lubumbashi (DRC) as usual,” Mr Mavhunga said.
Airzim owes a South African handling services company Bid Air US$500 000. Last week Bid Air grounded Airzim’s Boeing 737-500 over the outstanding debt. Negotiations between Bid Air and management at Airzim saw the plane being released.
On Monday a US company General American Supplies impounded Airzim’s Boeing 767-200 in London.
General American Supplies threatened to auction the plane forcing Government to chip in with US$1,2 million.
Management is now awaiting the return of the plane. Airzim is facing viability challenges with debts now believed to be over US$140 million.
Government is however, making frantic efforts to save the airline from collapse.
In October the State pledged to take over Airzim’s debts as the company is considered to be a strategic Government asset and brand that needs to be preserved and supported.
Government is currently looking for a strategic partner for Airzim.
Last month, President Mugabe met senior Chinese aviation officials to follow up on progress on the possibility of a joint venture with the national airline.
The President met officials from Hainan Airlines and the Chinese are still studying some aspects of the proposal.