‘AirZim EU ban indefinite’

The European Commission says the ban on Air Zimbabwe is of “an indefinite duration” after the airline failed the safety test.

On Tuesday, the Commission blacklisted AirZim alongside airlines from Angola, Nigeria, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Ukraine.

EU-sources close to the matter told NewsDay yesterday that the ban came since November 2016 and all non-European airlines wishing to fly to Europe must have a third country operator (TCO) authorisation.

“The ban is of an indefinite duration. But the list is updated periodically (at least twice a year), and Air Zimbabwe could be taken out in the future if the safety deficiencies are addressed,” the EU source said.

“Finally, please note that a banned carrier can continue to operate to the EU by using wet-leased arrangements from any non-banned air carrier (that is not necessarily EU air carriers).”

A wet lease is a leasing arrangement whereby one airline (the lessor) provides an aircraft, complete crew, maintenance, and insurance to another airline or other type of business acting as a broker of air travel (the lessee), which pays by hours operated.

A wet-leased aircraft may be used to fly services into countries where the lessee is banned from operating.

The question now remains whether AirZim will be in a position to pay for such services.

In e-mailed responses to NewsDay, AirZim said the airline “has engaged external consultants to ensure all processes are aligned with the European Aviation Safety Agency TCO requirements”.

“Air Zimbabwe would like to assure the travelling public that the airline is committed to the safety and security of our valued passengers and crew,” the airline said.

Government ministers and seniors officials do not use the airline when they are travelling.

The airline’s chief operating officer, Simba Chikore, was seen boarding a South African Airways flight from Johannesburg on Wednesday.–newsday