By Africa Moyo
A team of negotiators dispatched to South Africa by Air Zimbabwe, has brokered a deal that saw the release of the Boeing 767-200 yesterday which had been impounded by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) over debt.
The Air Zimbabwe aircraft was impounded at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday.
The national flag carrier was blocked from using the airport due to debt over parking, landing and passenger services for flights into Johannesburg.
The size of the debt could not be immediately established as it remains a closely guarded secret by both ACSA and Air Zimbabwe.
AirZim’s corporate services manager Mr Tafadzwa Mazonde confirmed yesterday that the aircraft had been released after thrashing a payment plan.
“We are resuming our flights this (yesterday) evening. We have been cleared and we are taking off in the evening,” said Mr Mazonde.
“We got all the clearances and we have been allowed to resume operations. Of course, there were payment plans and everything.”
He declined to reveal the details of the payment plan and the extent of AirZim’s obligations to ACSA, saying it was strategic that the figures be concealed.
“We can’t divulge at the moment,” said Mr Mazonde in terse response.
A source close to the development said that many airlines landing at OR Tambo International were also in arrears, some owing more than AirZim, and were due to suffer the same fate.
“There are some airlines which they want to ground too, which have higher figures than Air Zimbabwe,” said the source.
It is understood that other airlines such as South African Express were also grounded last week by ACSA.
But it was the impounding of Air Zimbabwe, which has one operational aircraft, which threw the travel arrangements for many passengers into turmoil.
Both domestic and regional routes were affected since Wednesday, with some passengers having been accommodated on other airlines.
Those that had emergency meetings in South Africa, reportedly ended up cancelling the trip.
Air Zimbabwe continues to struggle with its sole aircraft and inconveniences passengers from time to time when it develops challenges.
Recently, it was grounded after developing a technical fault in Bulawayo. The Chronicle