HARARE – Air Zimbabwe pilots strike has cost airline about $8.67 million in potential earnings. The pilots, who were demanding outstanding allowances, struck on September 7. The strike ended on September 24, after the government intervened in the labour row.
The Zimbabwean reports that two-week strike paralysed return flights for the airline’s lucrative Harare- London, Harare –Lubumbashi, Harare –Lusaka and Harare –Bulawayo. The lucrative Johannesburg –Victoria Falls – Harare was on several occasions also disrupted by the industrial action.
Air Zimbabwe chairman Jonathan Kadzura said the national airline lost about US$500 000 a day which translate to US$8,6 million over the 14 day.
The airline also paid nearly US$50 000 for meals for stranded passengers and hotels accommodation for travelers stranded after flights were cancelled due to the industrial action.
According to The Zimbabwean, Kadzura did not give details of the deal that ended the strike. Kadzura’s board and management at Air Zimbabwe had insisted they would not give to the salary demands by the pilots who they suspended over the strike.
In a statement last week, the Ministry of Transpot whose intervention helped end the strike said suspension orders against the pilots had been lifted and that there would be no disciplinary action taken against them.
The pilots went on strike to pressure the airline to pay outstanding allowances owed them after management reduced their allowances to US$1 200 from US$2 500 pre month.
The airline’s total wage bill is estimated at US$1, 3 million per month, which analysts say is disproportionate to the volume of business the firm is handling.
Air Zimbabwe was one of the best airlines in Africa at independence in 1980. But years of mismanagement and interference by the government have nearly brought the airline to its knees.
Starved of cash for re-tooling, Air Zimbabwe uses mostly obsolete technology and equipment while nearly all its planes are between 18 and 22 years old.
In addition, the airline pilots and other skilled staff have deserted the airline to go abroad where salaries are higher and working conditions better.