RBZ commits to repaying airlines debt

HARARE - Finance ministry, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), has agreed to make monthly payment of $4 million towards a $150 million debt owed to international airlines.

This comes as major airlines which were experiencing difficulties in foreign currency repatriation, had pulled the plug on Zimbabwe, suspending all ticketing from the southern African nation.

In a bid to paper the cracks, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Priscah Mupfumira met with Finance minister Mthuli Ncube and the RBZ governor John Mangudya on Sunday to discuss a plethora of issues, chief among them the International Air Transport Association (IATA) repatriation debt.

“The team’s meeting with the ministry of Finance and the RBZ discussed the IATA debt in great detail and a resolution to immediately address the skyrocketing repatriation debt was reached. A payment plan was agreed on and the ministry of Finance through the RBZ would make significant monthly payment of $4 million a month towards the $150-million-dollar debt,” Zimbabwe Tourism Authority said in a statement.

Board of Airlines Representatives chairperson Winnie Muchanyuka said the lack of repatriation of remittances had blighted fiscal operations of airlines.

“This meeting was long overdue and we are glad it happened. I must say that the meeting put a lot of operational issues into perspective for all parties in attendance.

“We negotiated and came to an agreement on a payment plan. Airlines welcome the move as this will allay any projected fears from us as airline operators. We are very confident that as soon as the payment plan sets in, we can continue with service delivery without any hindrances,” she said.

Safari Operators president Emmanuel Fundira said the move by government was a welcome development.

“It is a step in the right direction for the tourism sector. We would like to applaud government for a swift and quick response to the matter, this is a sign that they are committed to making things work more efficiently.

“This is a positive warning shot as we prepare for the World Travel Market to be held in London in a few weeks’ time.

“It definitely inspires confidence in the market. I would hasten to say let us not only focus on reducing the debt but on reducing the causes as well,” Fundira said.


Comments (1)

So airlines are pumping forex out of Zimbabwe whilst we watch. 150M is a lot.An airline ticket is the biggest cost . why cant we urgently restore the airline with new aircraft and have a big market share of this 150 million. Direct flight from UK to Vic falls. Resuscitating our airports for others and celebrating.We have the tourist figures but no forex. An airline improves liquidity of a nation forex wise. Ask the Ethiopians Airline is the backbone of their country. Why cant we imitate their model.They do not buy old planes ..Buying old planes is the bottomless pit.

Onisimo Gweshe - 25 October 2018

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