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INTERNATIONAL - Zimbabwe’s national airline has resumed flights to South Africa, the company said on Monday, after a halt last week when South Africa’s state-run airports management firm barred the airline from using the country’s airports over unpaid fees.

Air Zimbabwe’s sole aircraft in operation was grounded last week by Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), which said the airline had failed to pay landing and parking fees, passenger service charges and an undisclosed amount towards clearing its arrears.

Acsa said it informed Air Zimbabwe by letter on October 18, that it would not be allowed to depart from any of its nine airports and that the prohibition would remain in place until outstanding amounts were settled.

Acsa said in a statement that as a cash client, Air Zimbabwe was required to settle on each Monday the amounts owing for landing fees, parking fees and the passenger service charge for its weekly flights, as well as an amount towards settling arrears on its account.

“There were negotiations that were held, and we were given clearance to take off and land on Friday. It (Air Zimbabwe’s plane) did take off for South Africa today as scheduled,” Air Zimbabwe spokesman Tafadzwa Mazonde told Reuters.

He declined to say whether Air Zimbabwe had cleared its debt or come to another arrangement, such as a part payment.

An ACSA spokeswoman was not available for comment.

Air Zimbabwe owes foreign and domestic creditors more than $300 million. The Zimbabwe government put the airline under administration last year and later invited bids from potential investors as it seeks to privatise it.

XINHUA