The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) has dismissed claims that a fastjet aircraft failed to land at Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo on Wednesday evening due to load shedding.
Social and online media platforms went into a frenzy, claiming that Caaz officials considered having the aircraft land using car headlights.
Caaz public relations and communication manager Anna Julia Hungwe, told The Herald on Wednesday that nothing of that sort ever happened.
“Nothing of the sort ever happened to fastjet. The airport manager at JM (Nkomo) said there was nothing like that,” she said.
“Social media has its own way of doing things; this world is full of people who want to see things the other way.
“If anything like power outages happens, air traffic control will simply say to an airline ‘you can’t land at a given airport and our alternative is Harare or Bulawayo’.”
Mrs Hungwe said the picture of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport without power should have been captured in January when the runway experienced electricity challenges which were immediately rectified.
“Yes we have power outages, remember the country does not have adequate electricity, but we have generators that light all critical areas immediately.
“We are always ready for power outages. Some people are twisting it and making it appear as if Zimbabwe should not be visited. If we had such power challenges, airlines should be complaining but they are coming; and landing and departing.
“So we wonder what people are saying. There is no way air traffic control can let an airline go and land at an airport that does not have electricity,” said Mrs Hungwe.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Engineer Joel Biggie Matiza, also said there are generators at airports, which light up immediately after a power cut.
He added that they will be engaging Zesa to minimise power cuts at airports.
“We have generators there but we are looking into negotiating with Zesa,” said Eng Matiza.
Energy and Power Development Minister Advocate Fortune Chasi, said he “just received some dark pictures” on social media, suggesting that the airports have been hit by load shedding.
“Your question cannot be answered outside of our power challenges. I will engage Zesa to establish what it is that needs to be done, but primarily like they (Caaz) told, I presume you talked to Caaz about generators; that is what needs to be encouraged.
“But not only that, we also think that airports are good candidates for solar power. So I will be engaging the Ministry of Transport in that connection,” said Minister Chasi.
He said there was need for uninterrupted power to airports, through solar.
“This is not only confined to airports, but we would like to encourage all entities to invest in solar power to assure themselves of uninterrupted power supply and business continuity,” said Minister Chasi.