Foreign Airlines Shun Zim For Failures In Repatriation Of Funds
Challenges in repatriating funds from local air ticketing proceeds to international airlines owing to foreign currency shortages in the country have cast adverse effects to the growth of the local aviation industry as external airlines shy away from servicing the local destination, a top aviation industry official has said.
The country is undergoing serious foreign currency shortages that have affected all facets of the economy, including energy and fuel supply.
Speaking at the Aviation Stakeholders meeting this morning, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) acting director general, Margaret Mantiziba said challenges in reparation of funds to international airlines shareholders were negating efforts to attract more airlines into the country.
“We have the issue of fund repatriation were airlines once they do their business they want to be able to repatriate funds. As some of you know we have had challenges in that area, were some airlines have not been able to repatriate their funds and that has significantly affected their operations and to some extent our operations. We do know that the nation is working flat out to make sure that those issues are resolved so that normalcy is brought to the industry,” Mantiziba said.
The challenge has however become synonymous with most African countries, a case attributable to slow growth of the continental aviation industry, experts say.
Zimbabwe is understood to owe international airlines a cumulative US$ 196 million in repatriation funds which are still stuck in the country, the International Air Transport Association noted in July this year.
In February this year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa admitted that Ethiopian Airways, one of the biggest airliners on the continent were struggling to access funds from the country in the region of US$ 18 million.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe also admitted to having a backlog of close to a full year in international airlines payments and has however committed to monthly payments to clear these debts, a move that has somewhat ushered positive sentiment back into the local destination.
“We now have a number of international airlines which are registering interest in servicing this destination. I think right now we have about three or four that have shown a very strong interest in coming in Zimbabwe,” Mantiziba hinted.
The local aviation industry however remains constrained by a plethora of challenges.
Experts say the absence of a strong national airliner makes it difficult for the local aviation industry to be sustainable enough and attract other airlines to service the destination.
Despite commendable resilience by the national airliner, Air Zimbabwe, the company continues to struggle to stay afloat.
Aging infrastructure in the local aviation sector stands among the major obstacles to attracting international airlines particularly in an age where other regional markets such as Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique have modernized their airports.
Negative country perception has also affected the local destination’s ability to attract major international airlines beyond the African region with only a handful of African airlines landing in Zimbabwe.