AirZim hit hard by forex shortage
AIR Zimbabwe is being forced to hire planes to serve its routes as foreign currency shortages are delaying the acquisition of spare parts for its grounded fleet.
This has resulted in long flight delays and cancellations in the past week.
Officials at the airline have said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was delaying releasing foreign currency to purchase spare parts needed for maintenance work.
Air Zimbabwe chief executive officer Captain Ripton Muzenda said the delays were a result of maintenance work which is underway.
“We’ve been actually hiring aircraft from South Africa to try and maintain the schedules and we are also facing a challenge where we have not been getting aircraft that are available for hire. It’s not really a problem, it’s just that aircraft are down for maintenance work. When we try to make any external payments for parts it’s taking time to process the money through the Reserve Bank,” said Cpt Muzenda.
He said the forex challenge was not unique to Air Zim but many other sectors as well.
“I don’t think we are unique. I think all companies including the manufacturing sector are facing the same challenges but the problem for us is that it becomes immediately apparent because aircraft has to be there and when you can’t get it on time it will show immediately,” he said.
He said delays in external payments was hampering operations.
“We apologise sincerely to our passengers. We really don’t want to inconvenience them because we are here for their convenience so it affects us when we inconvenience them. We are working tirelessly to make sure the fleet is back up flying,” said Capt Muzenda.
Disgruntled passengers who spoke to The Chronicle said Air Zimbabwe was inconveniencing them as some flights were being delayed until the early hours of the following morning.
They also blasted the airline for not communicating on time.
“On Wednesday we left Bulawayo for Harare at around 10: 45PM for a flight which was scheduled for 7PM. We only got to Harare towards midnight and it’s such an inconvenience to the people waiting to receive us at the other end,” said a businessman who preferred anonymity.
He said they were to encounter the same challenge the following day as they sought to fly back to Bulawayo, only leaving Harare at 10PM.
A Bulawayo lawyer also vented her anger at the national airline for the delays and poor communication which saw her spend more than five hours at the airport on two occasions.
“Yesterday (Sunday) we flew at 9.30PM when the flight had been scheduled for 4PM. But Friday was worse, we were supposed to leave Bulawayo at 7.30PM but left at 1AM,” she said, on condition of anonymity.
Sources at Air Zimbabwe said they were using one plane for all regular flights, Harare-Bulawayo, Johannesburg-Harare, Harare-Victoria Falls and Bulawayo-Harare.
“Passengers have to wait for the flight from Joburg to Harare which then ferries them to Bulawayo and finally do the Bulawayo-Harare flight hence the delays.
“We are working hard to solve the crisis but it’s really inconvenient to the passengers whom we are delaying,” said the source. — @AuxiliaK