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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Air Zim back in the skies

Air Zimbabwe

AIR Zimbabwe’s Boeing 767, which developed a technical fault on Friday in Bulawayo, is back in the skies after engineers solved the problem.

It resumed flights on Sunday evening when it started servicing the Harare-Dar es Salaam route, and yesterday, the aircraft plied the Harare-Victoria Falls route before embarking on the Harare-Johannesburg route.

It was expected back in Harare yesterday evening.

However, Bulawayo is expected to continue without services due to “ground power challenges”, as the aircraft engine cannot be ignited in the absence of an Air Start Unit, once it is switched off.

Air Zim corporate communications officer Ms Firstme Vitori confirmed that the aircraft was back in the skies.

“Yes, it was fixed and we have resumed operations. It started by flying to Dar es Salaam (on Sunday night) and it did all other routes (Harare-Victoria Falls; Harare-Johannesburg),” she said.

“The only route that is outstanding is Harare-Bulawayo, which has the challenge of ground power. But we expect all routes to be back on stream soon.”

The aircraft, which is the only one being flown by Air Zimbabwe at the moment, developed a technical fault on Friday in Bulawayo as it began its “morning triangle” of Harare-Bulawayo; Bulawayo-Victoria Falls and Victoria Falls-Harare. The aircraft was expected to fly to Johannesburg from Harare later that day.

The breakdown left passengers in a quandary.

There were reports that Air Zim management had bungled arrangements to have the B767 fixed in Bulawayo after “hiring an individual” to ferry an Air Start Unit using his truck to Bulawayo.

Sources suggested that the individual was hired without a formal contract and was dispatched to Bulawayo on Friday at 10PM but had not arrived by midday on Saturday.

This raised suspicion that the person could have disappeared with the Air Start Unit, especially as his mobile phones were unreachable.

But Ms Vitori said: “It’s not true. It was our unit (that carried the Air Start Unit). There was nothing like that.”

Air Zimbabwe is struggling to find its footing despite spirited efforts by management together with the administrator, Mr Reggie Saruchera, to turnaround the critical institution.

The national flag carrier is reeling under a massive US$384 million debt which came about due to imprudent management decisions such as using inappropriate aircraft on domestic routes.

Air Zimbabwe flies long-haul aircraft on domestic and regional routes, instead of small aircraft such as Embraers. – The Chronicle

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