Accessibility links

Zimbabwe's National Airline Grounded by Fuel Shortage


Air Zimbabwe resumed some flights Tuesday after grounding its national fleet a day earlier because of a lack of fuel. Air Zimbabwe's plight reflects the critical state of the economy.

At Harare international airport Tuesday the only passengers were those traveling to Johannesburg on British Airways and South African Airways.

Staff at the Air Zimbabwe counter in the international departure terminal said 80 percent of the carrier's flights were grounded. The staff was hopeful that travelers to London Wednesday would be able to take off because a consignment of aviation fuel had arrived.

On Monday, all Air Zimbabwe's flights were canceled because of the fuel shortage. Air Zimbabwe runs daily flights to second city Bulawayo and tourist resort Victoria Falls. It also flies to Zambia, Malawi, Johannesburg, Dubai and London.

The senior management at Air Zimbabwe were suspended Monday according to a report in the state-controlled Herald newspaper Tuesday.

Air Zimbabwe is the only air carrier operating out of Harare which accepts payment for tickets and freight in Zimbabwe dollars.

Last month the board of another national transport operator, the National Railways of Zimbabwe was sacked by the government. Less than 10 percent of its locomotives are working, according to its latest report to parliament.

The South African rail authority is now carrying all food imports into Zimbabwe.

The National Railways like Air Zimbabwe says it has no foreign currency to fix locomotives and keep trains running.

The only fuel available to Zimbabwe motorists, except for senior government officials, has to be bought with foreign currency.

Only a handful of fuel stations across the country have US dollar fuel available. Ordinary Zimbabweans who do not have foreign currency say they are forced to buy from the black market at more than three times the official price.

The manager of one of the longest established garages in central Harare said Tuesday he had laid off long serving staff two weeks ago because he had received no fuel for sale in local currency for four months.

Zimbabwe's ever deepening economic crisis began after 2000 when President Robert Mugabe seized 90 percent of white-owned commercial farms which produced 40 percent of Zimbabwe's foreign currency.

XS
SM
MD
LG