TROUBLED national carrier Air Zimbabwe’s plan to engage a turnaround strategic partner could have suffered a setback while its safety record also came under scrutiny after the airline was last month deregistered from the global aviation safety organisation registry for failing to comply with regulations, it has been established.
Last month cabinet gave Transport minister Joram Gumbo the greenlight to engage five international airlines seeking to partner the debt-ridden local airline.
According to the International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), only 63 airlines in Africa and the Middle East, which exclude Air Zimbabwe, are compliant with the minimum safety standards.
Iata’s IOSA safety and operational audits are carried out bi-annually.
The Iata Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) is the benchmark for global safety management in airlines. All Iata members are registered and must remain registered in order to retain Iata membership.
The total accident rate for IOSA carriers between 2011 and 2015 was 3,3 times lower than the rate for non-IOSA operators, according to the organisation. As such, IOSA has become a global standard, recognised well beyond Iata membership.
Iata concluded the safety audit of Air Zimbabwe in April after officials from the organisation completed a week-long assessment.
When reached for comment, newly–appointed Air Zimbabwe CE blamed the previous management for not complying with the safety regulations.
“Although the IATA audit programme is purely voluntary, Air Zimbabwe has been IOSA certified since 2008. A renewal audit was due in February this year. Unfortunately there was laxity in the previous management who simply did not have the diligence to follow through with the audit. The airline stopped communicating with the auditors until the audit renewal date lapsed in June this year,” Muzenda said.
He said Air Zimbabwe is currently recruiting managers who have the capability to turn around the airline.
“No effort will be sparred to make Air Zimbabwe a world-class airline. The airline has a great safety record and fully intends to uphold the highest safety standards,” he added.
In August this year, Muzenda succeeded Edmund Makona who had been acting since 2013.
In 2012, Air Zimbabwe was de-registered from the Iata Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry after the airline had temporarily discontinued operations and failed to conduct the audits which must be carried out every two years.
The airline was later readmitted to the International Air Transport Association’s Operational Safety Audit in 2013 after complying with the aviation body’s minimum standards.
Air Zimbabwe had also technically failed IOSA’s test after temporarily halting operations due to an industrial strike that was taking place at the time.