Eye in the Sky #2; Weather Fees, Indeed., by Travel Radar Correspondent David Hopwood
Have you ever been the victim of a scam? Hopefully you’ve never succumbed to the temptation to send your bank details to that nice Nigerian prince who needs to move a million dollars of gold by Tuesday.
Pretty obviously a con, yes? But how about ‘meteorological weather fees’?
Last Friday a judge in Zimbabwe ordered South African Airways to pay ZAR12 million (about $877k) in outstanding aforementioned ‘meteorological weather fees’. The Zimbabwean Ministry of environment, water and climate brought the case against the airline in 2014, arguing that SAA had not paid for the service from January 2006 to April 2014. The judge also ordered the airline to pay for services from May 2014 to the date of final payment.
The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Harare, Zimbabwe
After decades of mismanagement and corruption, the Zimbabwean economy has collapsed and earns almost no foreign exchange to pay for imports.
The airline is naturally appealing the decision of the basis that it dutifully pays landing, departure and overnight fees and there’s no such thing as ‘weather fees’. That seems a reasonable argument.
One couldn’t blame SAA for being disinclined to pay the fictitious bill for weather reports. Since a) it’s broke and b) The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe plans to ‘reject the majority of debts’ owed to foreign institutions, one of which is SAA. The carrier may only be offered 5% of the $60 million of funds from ticket sales it’s been unable to extract from the country.