By Nyemudzai Kakore and Tinashe Makichi
Air Zimbabwe has been hit by acute fuel shortages which forced it to cancel all morning fights and approach regional counterparts for assistance over the past one week.
All morning flights were cancelled yesterday and delayed to midday as the crisis escalated. The Under-23 football national team had to endure long hours waiting for their flight to South Africa yesterday for the last leg of their CAF Under-23 championship qualifier.
Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Obert Mpofu confirmed that there was a fuel crisis at Airzim, but said the matter was administrative. He also pointed out that the Energy and Power Development Ministry was responsible for the importation of the fuel.
“There is a shortage Jet A1 fuel and we are trying to normalise the situation, but this is rather a management issue,” said Minister Mpofu.
He referred questions to the airline’s acting chief executive Mr Edmund Makona, who professed ignorance of the situation.
Sources at the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe said the fuel shortages had been ongoing for a week due to logistical delays in the supply of Jet A1.
The sources said the delay in fuel supply also affected Zambia and South Africa, but those countries had enough reserves to sustain operations, which was not the case with Airzim.
The sources said fuel started to be delivered at the airline tanks yesterday at the Harare International Airport, but the delay had affected the efficiency of the airline.
“There are fuel shortages at Airzim that saw the airline soliciting for fuel from other Sadc countries,” said one of the sources.
“The ship was delayed and we have not been furnished with the reasons behind the delay, hence culminating in the fuel shortage.
“We have been with this problem for about a week after our reserves ran out. The fuel trucks have started arriving, but management is not sure if the quantities will be able to sustain operations in the long run.”
The source said Airzim consumes 90 000 litres of fuel per day.
A visit to the Harare International Airport yesterday showed that the situation had eased late in the afternoon as trucks carrying Jet A1 fuel could be seen off loading it.
Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge said he was not aware of the fuel crisis as he was out of town. The Herald