Michael Tome and Panashe Chikonyora
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) says failure to repatriate funds to international airlines has piled on to challenges that are discouraging the firm from efficiently discharging duties in the aviation industry business.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Zimbabwe owed airlines about $196 million as of July this year, stuck in the country due to shortage of hard currency.
Speaking at the Aviation Stakeholders Meeting dubbed “Status of the Zimbabwean aviation industry” held in the capital yesterday CAAZ acting director general Margaret Mantiziba lamented the failure to repatriate funds to international airlines saying it reduced credibility of Zimbabwe as a destination for airlines thereby denting airline traffic volumes into the country.
She also expressed displeasure on the absence of a strong national flag carrier.
“We have the issue of fund repatriation, when airlines do their business they want their funds repatriated, some of you know we have had challenges in that area and that has significantly affected their and our operations but we do know that responsible authorities are working flat out to make sure that those issues are resolved so that normalcy is brought back to the aviation industry.
“We have absence of a strong national airline, as a nation I think it is good to have a strong airline because it then helps us to stay connected throughout the country and our prayer is that we bring AirZim to its glorious days,” said Mrs Mantiziba.
Deputy Director strategic policy planning in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development Nyikadzino Chifamba acknowledged that his ministry was immersed with the issue and now awaiting a positive result as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is taking care of the issue.
“It’s a fact that we failed to repatriate funds, and it has been brought to the attention of the ministry and the issue has been escalated to the monetary authorities of this country which is RBZ.
“There has been little noise coming from the ministry which is a sign that some funds are now being paid to airlines but that issue has been escalated to the highest level
“Finance ministry and RBZ are now handling the issue but I’m not privy to the actual figures and timelines on what these offices have covered so far,” he said.
CAAZ also highlighted growing regional competition, sustained negative destination image on Zimbabwe, aged infrastructure and limited capacity to finance new infrastructure projects as challenges stifling the intended growth in the industry.