South Africa grounds Air Zimbabwe jetliner over debt
By MacDonald Dzirutwe
South Africa’s state-run airports management company said on Thursday it had suspended Zimbabwe’s debt-strapped national airline from using the country’s airports over unpaid landing and parking fees.
Air Zimbabwe owes foreign and domestic creditors more than $300 million. The Zimbabwe government put the airline under administration last year and later invited bids from potential investors as it seeks to privatise it.
The airline’s sole aircraft in operation was grounded by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), which said Air Zimbabwe had failed to pay landing and parking fees, passenger service charges and an undisclosed amount towards clearing its arrears.
“Air Zimbabwe has not adhered to the cash basis terms for using airports owned by Airports Company South Africa,” ACSA said in a statement.
It added that “the prohibition will remain in place until outstanding amounts are settled.”
An Air Zimbabwe spokeswoman said she could not comment. But an official with the airline, who declined to be named, said the Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200 jet had been grounded at Oliver Tambo International Airport since Wednesday.
Air Zimbabwe is among dozens of state-owned firms in the country, which shares a border with South Africa, that are set to be partially or fully privatised as the government seeks to cut its fiscal deficit. Reuters