An Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200 has been impounded at London Gatwick Airport for an alleged failure by the airline to keep up to date with payments for spare parts.

Kenneth Connor, director of marketing at Washington DC-based aircraft spare parts supplier American General Supplies (AGS), told Flightglobal that Air Zimbabwe owes the company $1.5 million.

"We took action through the US and UK courts to impound the aircraft at Gatwick," said Connor.

A Gatwick spokeswoman said that between 50 and 60 stranded Air Zimbabwe passengers spent last night at the airport, which "provided food and refreshments" for them.

AGS has had a "long and amicable relationship" with Air Zimbabwe that dates back to 1982, according to Connor.

"We started having payment problems in 2009 and we reached an agreement in July 2010, but then the payments stopped. We made attempts to reach out to them but we didn't come to a satisfactory agreement," he said.

AGS is "hopeful" that it will receive $1 million from Air Zimbabwe by tomorrow, with the remaining $500,000 expected to be paid by the end of the week, at which point it would release the aircraft, said Connor.

"We're not talking about auctioning the aircraft and we're hopeful that we will resolve this by Friday," he added.

Earlier this year, IATA suspended Air Zimbabwe from its settlement system due to non-payment of booking fees.

Air Zimbabwe owns two 767-200ERs, according to Flightglobal's ACAS database. It also owns three Boeing 737-200s - one of which was reportedly impounded last week in South Africa.

The airline could not immediately be reached for comment.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news