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Air Zimbabwe Suspends Flights, Faces Bankruptcy

Air Zimbabwe, that country’s long-embattled flag carrier, has suspended flights and will likely file for bankruptcy (or whatever the equivalent of that is in Zimbabwe).

The struggling airline had stopped flying to London a while back, and was reduced to flying routes in the country and to South Africa. Emirates launched its first route to Harare recently, a city it had been asking to serve for years. Zimbabwe’s ridiculously protectionist government prevented that from happening, but eventually relented.

The airline owes $140 million, including $35 million to its employees.

I was lucky enough to fly the airline 10 years ago, and little about the flight was noteworthy (which is a good thing) other than there being exactly 6 passengers on the 150-seat 737. I know that African carriers don’t have a reputation for having the best safety record, but that’s not strictly true. Certainly there are many tiny, sketchy airlines hopping around that continent. But the larger airlines (South African Airways, Kenya Airways, and, dare I say, Air Zimbabwe), have safety records that match up to that of any US airline.

In any case, Air Zim will in all likelihood be gone within a month. Sad for a piece of African aviation – which has been around since the mid-1960s (actually pre-dating Zimbabwe by 15 years) – to disappear.

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  1. Oddly, Air Zimbabwe was one of the first airlines I ever flew, traveling to Zimbabwe on a missions trip back in high school. It will be sad to see them go, but not really surprising when you consider the turmoil that has plagued the country over the past several years.

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