THE United States (US) embassy in Harare has banned its staff from using Air Zimbabwe over safety concerns.
This comes after the struggling national airline was barred from Europe due to safety issues picked up during an operator audit by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
After the ban, transport minister Joram Gumbo down played the set-back, dismissing it as a non-issue.
Even so, President Robert Mugabe has since ditched Air Zimbabwe which is run by his son-in-law Simba Chikore, opting to spend millions hiring planes from abroad for his numerous foreign trips.
In a statement Wednesday, the US embassy advised staff to stop using Air Zimbabwe with immediate effect.
“The European Union (EU) banned the state-owned airline from flying to Europe on May 16, 2017 because of safety concerns that include improper or overdue maintenance and lack of a computerized record-keeping system,” the embassy said.
“Safety concerns raised by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the U.S. Embassy’s investigation dictate that travel on Air Zimbabwe be suspended until such time as the deficiencies are rectified.
“U.S. Embassy Harare will lift the restriction when all issues have been verifiably addressed according to international standards.”
When the indefinite Europe ban was announced last month, the government said the restriction only affected two aircraft.
‘‘It should be noted that the ban is on two specific aircraft that fly long haul to Europe,” minister Gumbo told local media.
“The airline has not been banned from flying into Europe. If we correct that, the ban on the two planes will be lifted.
“The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) operator audits passed the airline on 10 out of 12 safety items which needed to be addressed.”