At least 200 Zimbabwean chartered accountants (CAs) were yesterday left stranded at South Africa’s Lanseria International Airport for more than 12 hours due to struggling national carrier Air Zimbabwe’s failures.
Several of them described their experience of Air Zimbabwe yesterday as ‘absolute shambles’.
CAs were travelling back home from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ)’s flagship Winter School in Sun City, South Africa, which ended yesterday.
The chartered Air Zimbabwe flight, number AZW 454, with registration number ZWPF, which is the only functional plane for Air Zimbabwe, was supposed to depart Lanseria, a privately owned international airport situated north of Randburg and Sandton, North West of Johannesburg, at 1230hours yesterday.
But, the aircraft, the 767-200ER, also known as Chimanimani, only touched down at the South African airport by 0007 am this morning after experiencing technical challenges, according to Air Zimbabwe officials in South Africa. Air Zimbabwe could not get a replacement flight for its stranded passengers.
CAs, who clearly appeared frustrated, boarded the flight shortly after 0030hrs and it touched down at the Robert Mugabe International Airport at exactly 0206 this morning. A number of CAs and Energy and Power Development Minister, Fortune Chasi who was guest of honour at ICAZ Winter School in Sun City, were said to have organized alternative flights from OR International Airport to Harare, when it became clear that Air Zimbabwe had serious problems in Harare, incurring additional costs. Lanseria International Airport is 50 kilometre from the city centre of Johannesburg.
Soon after touching down in Harare, Business Times can report that Air Zimbabwe left for Tanzania, where several other passengers were also stuck in Dar es Salaam.
And today in the evening, it is understood that it will be forced to head to OR International Airport in South Africa, to also take other passengers, who have been stranded for more than two days now. Analysts who spoke to Business Times said that this was an exhibition of poor management by the airline’s management.
This was not the first time Air Zimbabwe had disappointed its clients in recent weeks. The plane had a breakdown in Bulawayo on Friday and the critical spare parts had to be moved from Harare. This meant that the sole plane, had to be forced to cancel, its Harare- Johannesburg- Harare and Harare- Dar es Salaam-Harare routes.
Airlines whose passengers get stranded due to its now availability after bookings were confirmed have a duty of care to its passengers. This means, Air Zimbabwe had to book for passengers’ accommodation for all the stranded passengers and also pay for food, incurring huge costs.