Air Zimbabwe (UM, Harare International) has secured USD1.4 million to clear debts owed to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which it hopes will enhance its chances of rejoining the association to expand its international route network and tap into global partnerships, state-owned newspaper The Herald reported.

Air Zimbabwe was not immediately available for comment.

The national carrier is currently not a member of IATA due to a combination of factors, including unpaid fees and non-compliance with the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) global safety programme.

Even though the airline’s website claims otherwise, Air Zimbabwe is not on the IOSA registry at present, having allowed its 2019 membership to lapse. The national carrier is also still banned from operating to the European Union (EU).

Neither is Air Zimbabwe part of the IATA Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) that facilitates the reconciliation of airline ticket sales through IATA-registered travel agents.

The carrier has repeatedly expressed its keenness to rejoin both IATA programmes.

With its economy in a tailspin, Zimbabwe is one of the main offenders in Africa when it comes to unrepatriated ticket revenue owed to foreign carriers. With USD100 million in blocked funds as of May 2022, Zimbabwe ranks second only to Nigeria, which is holding back USD450 million, according to IATA.

Some 67% of the USD1.6 billion airline revenue blocked by 20 countries worldwide is tied up in 12 African countries. The consequences are reduced air connectivity, diminished investor confidence, and reputational harm caused by a perception that it is a high-risk place to do business.