HARARE, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s state-owned airline was scrambling for cash on Tuesday to secure the release of a plane seized in London by a U.S firm over a $1.2 million debt, a senior airline official told state media.
Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive Innocent Mavhunga confirmed that his firm’s Boeing 767-200 had been impounded on landing at Gatwick Airport on Monday after American General Supplies got a court order for money owed for aircraft spares.
“The plane has been attached by one of our spares suppliers over an outstanding debt which we are negotiating to settle,” he was reported as saying.
Mavhunga said government’s treasury department had told the airline it could not help with the required cash. Another official said Air Zimbabwe was still scrambling to get back the aircraft in time for a scheduled return flight to Harare on Tuesday evening.
“The management and the shareholder (government) have to work to a common cause because we stand to lose more by losing the plane and missing flights,” the official said, declining to be named.
Economic analysts say Air Zimbabwe is struggling to survive due to mounting debts, currently put at $40 million, and many see it as a victim of mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and poor funding by government since independence from Britain in 1980. (Reporting By Cris Chinaka; editing by David Dolan)