Air Zimbabwe cancels flights after suppliers cut off fuel

16th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Zimbabwe's debt-ridden national carrier has cancelled flights to London and South Africa after gas firms stopped supplies over outstanding payments, officials said Thursday.

A senior manager at the troubled carrier confirmed the flight cancellation.

"We had no option besides to cancel the London flights because suppliers refused to give us fuel for the trip," the manager told AFP on condition that he was not named.

"We also made similar arrangements for passengers who were travelling to South Africa yesterday (Wednesday)."

Air Zimbabwe general manager Innocent Mavhunga could neither deny or confirm the grounding of the planes as a result of failing to pay suppliers. "I would not want to comment on that," he told AFP.

"We have cancelled the flight to London, but these are just operational challenges. We have re-scheduled our flights until Sunday," he said.

Officials at Air Zimbabwe said the airline was Wednesday forced to put passengers onto other airlines as a result of failing to secure gas to transport clients as a result of a $1.6 million debt.

On Thursday privately owned NewsDay also reported that Air Zimbabwe had cancelled several flights, including to London and Johannesburg, because it could not meet its fuel obligations.

Air Zimbabwe owes various creditors in excess of $100 million, according to government estimates.

Last month the International Air Transport Association suspended Air Zimbabwe from its flight booking services because of $280,000 in unpaid fees.

The carrier is one of several state-owned firms that have posted losses and have been short-listed for a sell-off.

The airline is weighed down by debt, an aging fleet and high staff turnover.

© 2011 AFP

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