'It's a non-issue': Minister pooh-poohs Air Zimbabwe Europe ban

Harare - Zimbabwe's transport minister has pooh-poohed news that the national carrier has been banned from Europe, arguing that only two planes are affected, it was reported on Thursday.

The ban, which was announced by the European Commission, got Zimbabweans talking on Wednesday.

That's not least because President Robert Mugabe always uses Air Zimbabwe AND his son-in-law Simba Chikore is the chief operations officer of the carrier.

Minister Joram Gumbo told website NewZimbabwe.com that Air Zimbabwe failed European tests on just two issues: the fact that it uses manual records sometimes and its radar systems.

"It's not anything unusual. Air Zimbabwe went to the EU when it had published new conditions. It had two planes, 767s, and they were told to comply with the conditions," Gumbo was quoted as saying.

He told the Herald newspaper:"The ban is on two specific aircraft that fly long-haul to Europe. The airline has not been banned from flying into Europe."

The national carrier is saddled with a reported debt of up to $300m. In March it was reported that a private plane had had to be chartered from Bahrain to take Mugabe to see his doctors in Singapore when the Air Zimbabwe plane he usually uses was grounded for maintenance.