British Airways’ final flight from Harare landed at Heathrow last night, closing a chapter in links between Britain and Zimbabwe.
|BA also suspended its flights in 1965|
BA152 was the final service of a route the airline said it was abandoning because it had become uneconomic.
Zimbabwe’s economy is in freefall and tourism to the country has collapsed.
But in Zimbabwe the decision is being seen as part of London’s efforts to isolate Robert Mugabe’s regime, even though BA is a commercial company.
Zimbabwe’s official media did not mention the milestone today but the independent Zimonline website revealed that safety concerns over an IATA audit could see the national flag carrier barred from flying to Europe.
"If this succeeds the airline will be barred from flying to Europe and therefore the United Kingdom government would have won the battle to stop air services between the two nations," it quoted an internal Air Zimbabwe report as saying.
The first British airline to serve the London-Harare route was Imperial Airways, BA’s precursor, in 1932, when the city was known as Salisbury.
BA suspended its flights in 1965, when Rhodesia declared UDI, but resumed them after the fall of Ian Smith’s government.
Air Zimbabwe has announced two extra flights a week to Gatwick to try to take advantage of the move, but the firm’s timetable is subject to the whims of Robert Mugabe’s government, which is liable to demand seats and even route changes at short notice to serve its officials’ desires.
Ethiopian Airlines has also announced it will pull out of Harare next month