Yeukai Karengezeka Herald Correspondent
Three planes took off late from Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport and Victoria Falls International Airport yesterday morning after operational problems caused the late arrival of air traffic controllers.
But by mid-morning, the problems had been sorted out and normal flights resumed. Herald reporters witnessed flights by Air Tanzania and South African Airways landing at scheduled times at RGM International Airport.
CAAZ acting director-general Mrs Margaret Mantiziba said they encountered an operational challenge that caused the morning shift team to arrive late for duty.
The delay resulted in a social media frenzy with some people attributing these delays to a strike by Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) air traffic controllers. This stemmed from a letter that was written by the Air Traffic Controllers’ Association of Zimbabwe last week addressed to the acting director-general and director of flight safety and standards bemoaning poor salaries and incapacitation.
The workers stated that they had been using their personal mobile phones to communicate with pilots which was a national security threat and expressed displeasure in their employer for failing to address their welfare issues.
CAAZ public relations and communications manager Mrs Anna Hungwe dismissed the rumours about Zimbabwe’s air space being closed to aircraft.
“The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe has noted with concern various media reports suggesting the closure of the Zimbabwean airspace. These reports are inaccurate and meant to cause panic and chaos at our airports and despondency to the travelling public,” she said.
She said after the brief delay “the operations reverted back to normalcy and the airspace remains open and functional adhering to the set standards by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.”
“The CAAZ will continue with its mandate of developing aviation in Zimbabwe and has embarked on a global drive to lure back airlines to Zimbabwe, and also to develop and refurbish airports infrastructure to meet current or future demands and standards,” she said.
“Currently works are ongoing at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport that will see the airport in league with regional leaders,” read the statement.