STAFF WRITERS 28 April 2017
HARARE – Struggling national carrier Air Zimbabwe this week sunk to new
lows after it resorted to issuing handwritten boarding passes – triggering
a torrent of bad jokes from travellers expressing their shock at the
extent of the rot devouring the airline.
This comes as the debt-ridden flag carrier is struggling to operate its
full complement of aircraft, a development which recently forced its
single biggest customer, President Robert Mugabe, to hire private jets.
The embarrassing ticketing fiasco emerged after one irate passenger
travelling from Johannesburg to Bulawayo posted the shoddily-issued
boarding stub on his Facebook wall.
This showed a piece of paper with Air Zimbabwe’s date stamp on it, as well
as handwritten flight details, including the passenger’s name, seat number
and city of departure and destination.
The passenger told the Daily News in a telephone interview yesterday that
the handwritten boarding passes were also given to him after enduring a
lengthy flight delay.
He claimed that the travel documents did not have any security features
such as a barcode, and appeared “very fake”.
Air Zimbabwe sales and marketing manager Christopher Kwenda confirmed
yesterday that all flight details, including names and seat numbers, were
written in ink for some passengers travelling from Joburg to Bulawayo and
“What is happening is that we are combining flights, Joburg-Bulawayo and
Joburg-Vic Falls. It becomes difficult to combine the two loads because of
“The printing pass system is programmed for one flight, so we print for
the flight with more passengers. The rest is handwritten.
“It’s not like the system is down or the airline is facing any problems
and it’s not like this is happening with all our flights, it’s just one
flight,” Kwenda told the Daily News.
The global aviation industry has moved to electronic ticketing in line
with latest standards approved by the International Air Transport
Association (IATA), whose policy is to ensure airline safety, security and
Air Zimbabwe, which is said to be losing up to $3 million a month, is
saddled with a $300 million declared debt.
The national carrier has also over the past three decades struggled to
shake off claims of corruption and ineptitude, which has led to the
dismissals of several of its boards and senior managers.
Last month, Mugabe was forced to hire a private jet for his overseas
travels after it emerged that the poorly-performing national carrier had
failed to complete the servicing of its planes.
The airline’s entire fleet was grounded as it was said to be undergoing
mandatory maintenance checks.
As a result, Mugabe had to lease a private jet from Bahrain, which he used
to travel to Singapore and Ghana.
Air Zim’s old fleet comprises two Boeing 767s, three 737s, three MA60s and
two Airbus A320s. However, only four of those are flying: one airbus, one
Boeing 767, one 737 and an MA60.