HomePoliticsFire-damaged plane to cost Air Zim $1 billion

Fire-damaged plane to cost Air Zim $1 billion

Itai Dzamara

AIR Zimbabwe is set to spend over $1 billion on repairs to its Boeing 767 aircraft which caught fire last week. The plane was en route to Ghana for a short lease.

face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Sources at Air Zimbabwe said the long-haul jet, named Victoria Falls, had panels housing its engines damaged by a fire soon after take-off, forcing the plane to return to Harare.

Sources at Air Zimbabwe said the accident was caused by failure to carry out proper maintenance checks on the plane. They said a duct which supplies air to the engines burst, resulting in a fire which damaged the panels. The duct, sources said, should have been replaced prior to the use of the plane.

They estimated the airline would need $1 billion to source the panels from Boeing in the United States.

The aircraft was leaving for Ghana on a lease that would have earned the airline US$600 000.

The damage to the plane has disrupted the airline’s schedules to the United Kingdom and South Africa, which are both being serviced by the remaining Boeing 767. Sources at the airline last week revealed that London trips, which used to be scheduled on a daily basis, had been cut to three a week. Air Zimbabwe made only two trips to South Africa last week.

Senior sources at Air Zimbabwe revealed that management rushed to deploy the aircraft without due checks being done because of the lure of forex revenues. They also blamed the incident on manpower shortages at Air Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Independent visited Harare International Airport last week and was shown the damaged aircraft.

Air Zimbabwe spokesman David Mwenga last week refused to confirm or deny the incident.

“Who told you that?” he asked. “Let your sources give you more information. In any case, there is no need for me to speak because it doesn’t help.”

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