Air Zim prejudiced in aircraft engine sale

Kuda Chikwanda



AIR Zimbabwe could have been prejudiced of at least US$50 000 in the complex sale of a Boeing 737 aircraft spare engine in 1996, with reliable source

s at the airline saying it could be much more, businessdigest can reveal.


Airline sources said the sale was conducted in yet unclear circumstances in which the relationship of three companies implicated in the sale and delivery of the aircraft has come into question. The three companies are North American Spares (NAS), M&M Aircraft Services and Global Air Technologies.


Documents in our possession show that nine companies bid for Boeing 737 engine JT8D-17A (serial number P709505B) on May 27, 1996.


The companies were NAS, R Purvis Engine World, Aerosupport, Amtec Jets, Global Air Technologies, Robert J James Total Engine Support, Jet International Incorporated, Air Ground Equipment Sales, and R Smith Avient Pvt Ltd.


The highest bid was made by Jet International Inc which submitted a bid for US$476 500, followed by NAS at US$475 000. Air Ground Equipment Sales made a bid for US$448 500, followed by Global Air Technologies at US$425 000.


R Purvis Engine World and R Smith Avient submitted bids worth US$375 000 each, while the lowest bid of US$325 000 was each made by Aerosupport, Amtec Jet Inc and Robert J James Total Engine Support.


The bid submitted by NAS won the day despite being lower than that submitted by Jet International Inc. An Air Zimbabwe proforma invoice with account number 06403 indicates that Air Zimbabwe received $4 739 122,50 being the local equivalent at the exchange rate of US$1:$9,9771 that prevailed then.


However, another company, M&M Aircraft Services, was listed on customs’ invoices and on a NAS faxed letter to Air Zimbabwe’s Purchasing Department directed to one Mr Shayamunda.


Furthermore, the letter — written by NAS president, Eric Waterman on July 4, 2007 — directs Air Zimbabwe to freight the engine to M&M Aircraft Services and state to the authorities that the engine is being returned to the United States for repairs instead of stating that it has been sold.


“I would like to get the engine out on the next available flight; the engine is committed for immediate use. Please confirm receipt of this fax and advise shipping details. It should be sent to M&M Aircraft Services located at 7323 NW 44th Street Miami, Florida 33166 Attention: Odney Johnson Tel 305 597 0060. It is very critical that you state that the engine is manufactured by Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and that it is being returned for repair to the US,” read Waterman’s letter.


A Zimbabwean exporter’s invoice for the transaction dated July 5, 2007 describes the engine as having been sold to M&M Aircraft Services, with the proceeds of the sale having been deposited into Air Zimbabwe’s account at Zimbank, Union Avenue branch.


Other documentation — including a Customs and Excise Bill of Entry, a Ministry of Finance Assessment Notice and an Air Waybill issued by the airline on July 8, 2007 — state that the engine was sold to M&M Aircraft Services.


Reliable airline sources revealed that the engine had ended up at Global Air Technologies which lost to NAS after posting a bid US$50 000 lower than that of NAS. According to the airline sources, it is the difference between the bids submitted by Global Air Technologies and NAS that the airline could have been prejudiced of.


“No one wants to explain how the engine ended up in Global Air Technologies’ hands months after it lost the bid to NAS. Questions have arisen over the years as to the nature of the relationship between NAS, M&M Aircraft Services and Global Air Technologies. Internal investigations carried out soon after revealed that the airline could have lost at least US$50 000. It is believed it could have lost more,” said one of the sources.


Questions sent to Global Air Technologies and NAS had not been responded to at the time of going to press.


Air Zimbabwe spokesperson David Mwenga said he could not comment on the matter as he did not have the documentation in possession of businessdigest.


“I definitely cannot comment on that as I don’t have the documents that you have. In any case Shayamunda left the airline a long time ago. Maybe he would have known,” Mwenga said. “But what I can tell you is that in all purchasing departments, in the country and across the globe, corruption exists, even at Air Zimbabwe. We have had to get rid of corrupt individuals because of the temptations the purchasing department offers. This is not unique to Air Zimbabwe. In this case it is very possible that attempts could have been made in the deal you are talking of and paper work could have been fiddled with, but I cannot comment on that really.”

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