Caaz decision an inconvenience to travellers

HARARE - Civil air regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz), has flighted a concerning statement, advising faithful passengers of the perennially struggling State-owned carrier, Air Zimbabwe, that all such travellers flying the airline’s local and its single scheduled international destinations, were now required to pay their departure fee directly to the Caaz office at the airport of departure.

What an inconsiderate, grounding procedure for the passenger.

As if to crush any unbelief, the airline reaffirmed the unwelcome statement: “Passengers travelling on Air Zimbabwe flights are required to pay their flight taxes in cash at the receipting office(s) at the airport of their departure,” the airline said in the recycled release. Air Zimbabwe operates three domestic routes to Kariba, Bulawayo and the Victoria Falls and one regional route, the cash-cow Harare-Johannesburg-Harare.

It is standard practice worldwide for an airfare to be inclusive of regulator fees, which charges are routinely passed on by the ticket-selling airline or travel agent to the regulator without a fuss. Locally, such fees were pegged at $15 for a domestic departure. The fee for an international departure is $50. By any measure, these are soaring numbers!

Top travel analyst, Smart Travel Inc. remarks, “Governments all around the world, at all levels, are desperately searching for more revenue, and air travel has become a popular target. The fact is — every time you fly, you part with a handful of punitive taxes.

“While many of these costs are included in the ticket price (a government requirement in much of the world), the worst are the ones you face at your arrival/departure airport.” So it is fact; any fee paid separately to a ticket purchase is particularly not viewed in good light.

The subject of what are generally stratospheric (and still climbing) taxes and other steep fees charged by our civil air regulator will be dealt with exhaustively in a future instalment. This article is only protesting the inconvenient, throttling measure being unfairly perpetrated on the long-suffering, unvalued Air Zimbabwe customer who now has to agonisingly endure an unnecessary extra queue at the airport of departure.

The diversion from the usual tax collection norm has apparently been triggered by the State-owned airline’s kleptomaniac, non-remittal of departure taxes to Caaz.

African Aviator forecasts that the drastic manoeuvre by Caaz will not fly as it will be negatively viewed as an extra burden by travellers, especially foreigners not privy to the diversion of Caaz funds by an uncaring, unaccountable Air Zimbabwe who falsely claim to practice hospitality in the sky, which they fail to perform on the ground.

If the inconvenient truth be told, it is unprofessional and downright fraudulent of Air Zimbabwe to collect the departure fee, a statutory requirement and surreptitiously not pass it on to the rightful beneficiary. In the process, Air Zim may have lost a source of funding in the commissions that will no longer accrue to the airline, as long as the current situation persists, further degrading their name in the process.

For the uninformed, the two State-owned entities, Caaz and Air Zimbabwe hangar under the same parent; the ministry of Transport and Infrastructral Development. It boggles the mind how the ministry cannot “make a plan” and avoid transferring the operational deficiency of Air Zimbabwe by adopting rigid restorative measures instead of forcing the unloved passenger into another frustrating line to aid the tax collecting efforts of Caaz!

The two organisations have to find a way to amicably exist without causing the local and tourist passenger to bear the brunt of their uninspiring sibling tiff. 

The new measure is awkward, intolerable and quite unwarranted as it is also tantamount to punishing the poor traveller for doing business with Air Zimbabwe.

African Aviator is an unconfident but faithful Air Zimbabwe passenger of decades standing.

He implores the minister of Transport, Obert Mpofu, to urgently sort out the in-house mess, without further inconveniencing the trusting passenger.

And in all likelihood, someone deserves to be dispatched home for not sticking to established operational protocols, hence this ugly situation. If push comes to shove, the disenchanted Air Zimbabwe passenger will vote with his feet. Remember, competition abounds on the cash-cow Harare-Joburg route from South African, British Airways, Flyafrica etc.

Surprisingly, African Aviator never shies away from flying Air Zimbabwe. I proudly buy Air Zimbabwe!

The turbulent enterprise employs hundreds of staff (most probably a little overstaffed) and gives a vital job to dozens of pilots, engineers and other genuine professionals. Notwithstanding it’s myriad self-inflicted challenges, it is a safe airline with much untapped potential.

The prayer is for Air Zimbabwe to establish a new approach by going a gear up, translating into everyone’s happy convenience.

Happy landings aviators!

*Maguire (africa.aviator@gmail.com) is a trained pilot who enthusiastically scans the global aviation industry.

Comments (2)

One would wonder - are these guys really serious about developing the country's airline or this is all sabotage on the part of the guys within the system? If one looks at the many departments in Zimbabwe you would suspect either there is inefficiency or there is systematic sabotage aimed at worsening the already affected image of the country's administration. But I don't think sabotage for in many cases.

Zita - 27 December 2014

After paying for tickets to fly to SA over Christmas in Aug. I now had to pay an extra $50.00 per family member flying. This has now put the nail in the coffin for Air Zimbabwe as far as am concerned and I would now rather fly another airline company.

Zims - 27 December 2014

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