Airzim in costly airport crash

Blessing Zulu

AIR Zimbabwe risks paying millions of dollars in compensation to Zambiana, a Zambian private airline, for damage to one of its planes caused by an Airzim driver, the Zimbabwe Independent has le

arnt.


Sources at Air Zimbabwe said a driver using a tug at Harare International Airport on Sunday rammed into a stationary Zambiana Beechcraft, which has been grounded since then.


“It is an embarrassing thing because Air Zimbabwe has continued to ignore basic safety regulations,” said the source.


“The person who was driving the tug was not licensed. The national airline has continued to ignore basic safety rules. The national airline has been told to pay for damages to the plane and also for loss of revenue and this will run into millions of dollars,” the source said.


Civil Aviation Authority of Zim-babwe (CAAZ) director-general Karikoga Kaseke yesterday confirmed the accident.


“We received the report and we are already investigating the matter,” Kaseke said.


“On the issue of compensation, it is natural that airlines seek compensation but it depends on the outcome of investigation,” he said.


Acting director for Airports and Business Development Jerry Ndlovu, said it was premature to comment on the investigations.


“I cannot confirm that our driver had no licence. It is tooearly to com-ment. The per-son involved has been sus-pended pend-ing investigations.”


This comes as the crisis-ridden national airline has been forced to reduce its domestic fares in the face of serious competition both regionally and internationally.


A source at Air Zimbabwe said flights had been drastically reduced.


“We used to have three flights per week to London but they have been reduced to two and normally very few passengers board our planes,” said the source.


Air Zimbabwe has also been fighting a losing battle on domestic routes because of competition from South African Airways (SAA).


“The management has been forced to combine the Bulawayo and Victoria Falls routes owing to stiff competition from SAA,” said the source.


Air Zimbabwe this week announced it had reduced domestic fares by about 40% to remain competitive. Passengers have been declining due to poor and erratic service.


Air Zimbabwe management did not respond to questions faxed to them.

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