Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
A team of negotiators dispatched to South Africa by Air Zimbabwe brokered a deal that saw the release of the Boeing 767-200 on Friday.
The aircraft had been impounded by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday over debt.
Airzim was blocked from using the OR Tambo International Arport due to debt over parking, landing and passenger services for flights into Johannesburg.
The size of the debt could not be immediately established as it remains a closely guarded secret by both ACSA and Air Zimbabwe for professional reasons.
Airzim’s corporate services manager Mr Tafadzwa Mazonde confirmed to The Herald that the aircraft had been released after thrashing a payment plan.
“We resumed our flights on Friday and today, it must have gone to Johannesburg in the morning,” said Mr Mazonde.
“We got all the clearances and we have been allowed to resume operations. Of course, there were payment plans and everything.”
He declined to reveal the details of the payment plan and the extent of Airzim’s obligations to ASCA, saying it was strategic that the figures be concealed.
“We can’t divulge at the moment,” said Mr Mazonde in terse response.
A source close to the development told The Herald that many airlines landing at OR Tambo International were also in arrears, some owing more than Airzim, and were due to suffer the same fate.
“There are some airlines which they want to ground too, which have worse off figures than Air Zimbabwe,” said the source.
It is understood that other airlines such as South African Express were also grounded last week by ASCA.
But it was the impounding of Airzim, which has one operational aircraft, which threw the travel arrangements for many passengers into turmoil.
Both domestic and regional routes were affected since Wednesday, with some passengers having been accommodated on other airlines.
Those that had emergency meetings in South Africa reportedly ended up cancelling the trip.
Airzim continues to struggle with its sole aircraft and inconveniences passengers from time to time when it develops challenges.
Recently, it was grounded after developing a technical fault in Bulawayo.