Plane released, still no flights

A Boeing 767 Air Zimbabwe plane, impounded at Gatwick Airport over a week ago, was finally released by law enforcement officers on Tuesday, after an American company that seized the aircraft confirmed receipt of the $1.5 million owed by Zimbabwe’s national airline.

But according to Air Zim regional manager David Mwenga, it will take a few more days before flights back to Harare can resume. Mwenga explained that the plane had been on the ground for over a week and developed problems. Engineers are expected to complete repairs by the end of the weekend.

He added that some passengers had been refunded and made alternative arrangements, but since the airline had limited funds, others could not be refunded. “We have to apologize to a lot of our passengers. We cancelled three flights because of this situation. We are sorry this happened,” Mwenga said.

Air Zim passengers who had booked flights to Harare for the holidays have spent over a week between hotel rooms and lounges at Gatwick Airport. Some were briefly detained by police last week after frustration turned to anger as they demanded answers.

Although the plane has been released, the holidays are ruined for many tourists who had booked guided tours tied to a schedule.

Air Zim flights to Johannesburg were also reportedly suspended last week, following claims that the management did not want to risk losing aircraft to Bid Air Services, a grounds company demanding payment of a $500,000 debt.

It is now up to engineers to decide when the Air Zim plane is safe enough to operate. Meanwhile the airline faces more debts that will soon need to be settled.

So book at your own risk!

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