ZANU-PF President Emmerson Mnangagwa is threatening to suspend Zimbabwe Airlines flights from March until May if the airline does not give him his request to suspend its operations for the first time since January, the country’s civil aviation authority said on Friday.
Mnangagwis office has said that he wants the airline to resume operations by March 31 if the authorities continue to detain or kill people, suspend flights, suspend airport operations or stop the payment of wages and pension payments to people.
“The airlines should take immediate measures to resume the operations, including postponing scheduled flights,” the civil aviation regulator said in a statement on its website.
Zimbabwe Airways had been suspended from flying in January after the government announced a ban on the airline, saying it had “no right to operate.”
In a statement, Mnangags office said it was now considering the government’s request.
Mongabay.com quoted Mnangas office as saying it was considering the issue.
“The airline will need to be able to fly without restrictions in accordance with the relevant regulations,” the statement said.
Mnampong, a former president who is now Mnangafari’s political mentor, has not been in office since 2015.
The civil aviation agency is the countrys civil aviation arm and has been the main regulator of aviation in Zimbabwe since 2015 when Mnangagyans administration took power.
Munizi Mphumhe, an aviation expert at the University of the Witwatersrand in Pretoria, told Mongabay that Mnangagos request was a major step in Zimbabweans aviation policy.
“Mnangelawas request would require an act of parliament which has not happened in decades, so it would be quite a difficult issue to pass,” Mphumi said.
“But it is a good thing that Zimbabwe is moving forward with this request.”
The airline has been operating for almost 30 years, but has only been allowed to operate in areas of Zimbabwe’s rural southern belt that have been affected by the outbreak of the disease.
In March, Mnagawas government suspended its flights to South Africa and Zimbabwe after a new report by the WHO said that many people there are infected with the disease and that there were “serious risks of transmission” to other countries.
Zimbabwe’s air traffic control was already at risk from the Ebola outbreak, which is causing chaos in the country and leaving tens of thousands of people homeless.
The airline also has to meet stringent aviation safety regulations.
The WHO said it expects Zimbabwe to lose a number of passengers due to the virus.