BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Board of Airlines Representatives chairperson and Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president Winnie Muchanyuka has bemoaned the turbulence being experienced in the transport sector following the grounding of all airlines on Tuesday.
As previously reported by NewsDay on Tuesday, Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare downed tools on Monday and Tuesday, citing incapacitation and fatigue, forcing flight delays and cancellations.
Further, according to a letter from the Air Traffic Controllers’ Association of Zimbabwe (ATCAZ) to Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza last month, ATCs noted the continued deterioration in air navigation communication performance.
“Any delays to departure of airlines inconvenience our customers and the airlines would want to avoid that. The delays also affect aircraft rotations as the aircraft would now arrive late at its destination causing subsequent delays on all the sectors the aircraft is rostered to operate on that day,” Muchanyuka said.
“However, we do not operate in a perfect environment and situations beyond anyone’s control can arise between the airlines and their service providers. We were in constant communication with the CAAZ (Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe) and minimal disruptions were caused to the operations and flights operated normally after 8am.”
Commenting on the letter sent by ATCAZ to Matiza, she said: “We can only deal with official communication and cannot go by what is on social media as we are unable to authenticate it. The said letter was not shared with the airlines”.
“I am unable to comment on the contents of the letter as operations have been normal except for yesterday (Tuesday),” Muchanyuka added. Matiza could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.
The continued deterioration in the air navigation communication performance comes despite Treasury having committed US$110 million towards infrastructure projects at all airports this year.
In the 2020 national budget, under the 2020 infrastructure priority plan, about $4,5 billion was set aside for transport.
But, most of the money will go to the dualisation and upgrading of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway, ongoing upgrading works on trunk roads, rehabilitation and maintenance of rural feeder roads through DDF and local authority roads.