THE Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200ER stuck in Bangkok to undergo an engine change is now back in service collecting stranded South Africans and Zimbabweans to bring them back home.

The plane, under charter to Maple Aviation Limited, flew first to Kuala Lumpur after being certified as flight-worthy before flying across the South China Sea to Guangzhou in China where it collected mainly South Africans wanting to return home and bringing them back to Kuala Lumpur.

Last night it was expected to make a second trip from Kuala Lumpur to China, this time to Wuhan, to pick up more Zimbabweans and South Africans.

It will return first to Kuala Lumpur to consolidate the passenger list before flying back to Harare via Johannesburg, most likely on Wednesday.

The plane underwent its needed engine change in Bangkok on Thursday and Friday and was certified to fly again by the Thai and Zimbabwe civil aviation authorities and Boeing. The engine change was undertaken with the help of Thai and Bangkok-based Japanese Nippon Airways engineers under supervision of the two Air Zimbabwe engineers.

Ten Air Zimbabwe engineers originally supposed to undertake the refitting were refused entry into Thailand on health quarantine grounds by Thai authorities, but the Nippon Airways engineers familiar with the plane type were available.

state media