THREE cabinet ministers and Air Zimbabwe acting managing director Oscar Madombwe recently suffered the effects of declining service at the national airline when they spent several hours stranded
due to technical problems and a go-slow by workers.
Transport and Communications minister Chris Mushowe, under whose ministry the national airline falls, had to resort to an Air Malawi plane after an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 737 had returned to Harare International Airport soon after take-off due to technical problems on Monday.
Special Affairs minister John Nkomo and Information minister Jonathan Moyo were stranded at Harare airport when the Friday and Saturday flights to Bulawayo were delayed by several hours due to the go-slow at the national airline.
Madombwe, who was in China to discuss an aircraft deal, failed to come back on Sunday as earlier scheduled due to technical problems with the Boeing 767 plane that is plying the route.
Madombwe yesterday confirmed the airline was experiencing technical problems.
“It is largely a result of the go-slow. There have been flight delays here and there and indeed it has affected some of us and ministers,” he said. “We are working on ensuring that such problems don’t continue.”
The flight to China via Singapore was launched last month amidst much fanfare but has suffered very low bookings. The persistent technical problems at Air Zimbabwe could worsen the situation in the face of stiff competition from established regional airlines.
Mushowe yesterday confirmed from Malawi that he had to use an Air Malawi plane on Monday evening after the pilot of an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 737 detected what engineers said was a serious defect in the cabin.
“There was a technical problem. This affected my plans because there was very little time between the scheduled time of arrival and the connecting flight in Johannesburg,” Mushowe said. “I realised I couldn’t use the Air Zimbabwe plane and resorted to the Malawian plane that plies the Harare-Lubumbashi route later that evening.”
The plane, which also had passengers booked for Johannesburg, returned to Harare airport less than 10 minutes after take-off and had to reschedule the flight to Tuesday.
Nkomo this week confirmed having spent up to four hours at the airport due to delays in the departure of the flight to Bulawayo. The flight was scheduled for early morning but was delayed to after lunch.