The Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) has impounded an aircraft owned by Air Zimbabwe over an unpaid debt.
Insiders at Air Zimbabwe told TimesLIVE that one of the national airline’s aircraft, a Boeing 767-200, was impounded at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday.
This came as Air Zimbabwe was suspended from using the airport due to non-payment of debt.
Air Zimbabwe owes ACSA, South Africa’s airports management company, outstanding fees for landing, parking and passenger service for its flights into Johannesburg.
As a result of the suspension by ACSA, Air Zimbabwe could not operate its Johannesburg-Harare flight on Wednesday and this resulted in some passengers failing to travel while others were accommodated on other airlines.
The seizure of Air Zimbabwe’s aircraft in South Africa, which is the airline’s only operational aircraft after all of its planes were grounded, forced it to cancel its Harare-Johannesburg flight yesterday including its domestic flights between Harare-Bulawayo and Victoria Falls.
Air Zimbabwe spokesperson Tafadzwa Mazonde confirmed the seizure of the aircraft stating that airline officials were engaging ACSA to release the aircraft.
“That’s what is happening. It’s a temporary suspension over a cumulative debt. We are in discussion with our shareholder and we are hopeful that we will find a solution,” Mazonde said.
Apart from ACSA, Air Zimbabwe has over the years had its aircraft seized by creditors including Bid Air Services in South Africa and American General Suppliers in London for debts which Air Zimbabwe had neglected to pay.
The seizure of Air Zimbabwe’s aircraft is a new low for the airline which has over the years broken records, including flying with only one passenger as it struggles to restore customer confidence following successive years of mismanagement.