By Felex Share
Air Zimbabwe risks being banned from using international airports and air spaces of other countries if it fails to meet a 90-day International Air Transport Association deadline to comply with global safety standards. The airline also risks losing IATA membership.
Acting Airzim chief executive officer Mr Innocent Mavhunga yesterday confirmed the development. He said Airzim failed to carry out the audit for the past six months due to financial challenges, adding that when the auditors came recently, the airline was “dead.”
Said Mr Mavhunga: “We have failed to do the audit programme because in the past six months we have been facing challenges, chief among them, the payment of salaries.
“When the auditors came, there was no one (in office) and nothing (planes) to audit. To carry out such an audit, the workers have to be at their stations and we could not do it in such an environment as people were not coming to work because we do not have money to pay them.”
IATA told Airzim on Thursday that it will be struck off the register if it fails to comply with international safety standards in three months. IATA is a global aviation body that works with airline members and the air transport industry to promote safe, reliable, secure and economical air travel for the benefit of world travellers.
The world aviation body conducts a biennial Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), which measures an airline’s system of operations, covering the operation of flights, boarding procedures and other aircraft safety matters. To retain IATA membership, members must submit and pass the audit.
The audit, done after every two years, is carried out by firms accredited to IATA at the expense of the national airline seeking certification.
The auditors, who come from various countries worldwide, include experts in the global aviation industry such as aircraft engineers, pilots, accountants and cargo operators who are former senior airline workers.
Failure to comply will result in an airline being struck off the register, making it impossible to use international airports and air space.
Mr Mavhunga said Air Zimbabwe was making frantic efforts to comply with IATA requirements as failure to register would have dire consequences.
“Since the audit is made at our expense, we are trying by all means to mobilise resources because this is an important exercise and IATA works with the International Civil Aviation Organisation,” he said.
Mr Mavhunga, however, would not disclose the amount of money needed to complete the exercise. “We are trying by all means to do that audit programme because we want to benefit from all that safe skies can bring.
“The workers are starting to report for duty and it is our hope that soon, we will have made strides in addressing our problem.” Mr Mavhunga said Airzim paid workers half their salaries last week.
“The situation is bad and only last week we managed to pay them a half month salary and it is our hope that Government will do something to bail us,” he said.
Mr Mavhunga said the limited domestic routes Airzim was operating were “encouraging”. “It is quite encouraging because we are operating 50 percent slot factor and on some days we operate 70 percent slot factor, which is a positive development,” he said