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Air Zimbabwe suspends flights to South Africa

Flights suspended to avoid seizure of planes over airline's debts.
Zim plane 7 8Enlarge
An airplane takes off. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

Air Zimbabwe, the state-owned airline, has suspended flights to neighboring South Africa to avoid having its planes seized over unpaid debts. 

The troubled airline is reported to owe $500,000 to a local supplier.

Earlier this week an Air Zimbabwe plane was impounded at London's Gatwick Airport until a debt of $1.2 million was paid.

The airline is struggling to cope with a total debt of $140 million and is reported to be on the verge of collapse, according to the BBC.

More from GlobalPost: 2 Air Zimbabwe jets impounded over debts

"We are not flying into South Africa. We are trying to secure funding to pay our debts in South Africa," said Innocent Mavhunga, Air Zimbabwe's acting chief executive, in the the state-owned Herald newspaper.

He said, however, that the airline was continuing to fly to Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Air Zimbabwe used to offer daily flights to Johannesburg and it was a profitable route. 

Other airlines, such as South African Airways and British Airways' subsidiary Comair, continue to fly between Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, and South Africa, the regional powerhouse.

Air Zimbabwe was once a well-run and profitable airline with good flights in Zimbabwe, to South Africa and other southern African destinations, as well as flights to London and other European and Asian spots. In recent years airline has been dogged by allegations of corruption and mismanagement and reports of large losses. President Robert Mugabe uses the Air Zimbabwe jets for his numerous overseas trips, often disrupting scheduled flights so that planes can take him to Rome, New York or Hong Kong.

More: Why is Zimbabwe's national airline called Scare Zimbabwe?

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa-emerges/air-zimbabwe-suspends-flights-south-africa