AirZim hit hard by forex short­age

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Aux­ilia Ka­ton­go­mara Chron­i­cle Re­porter

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

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