The latest action by the pilots is the latest in as many weeks. Just two weeks ago the pilots went on an impromptu strike action forcing the airlines management into calling a crisis meeting. Although the pilots later went back to work, they openly defied their bosses call for them to resume work in front o stranded passengers.
On Friday the legion of pilots who came to work ready to do duty could be seen milling in the Air Zimbabwe airport headquarters car park.
When approached for a comment they refused to comment referring all questions to the company management.
Air Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer, Innocent Mavhunga said he was out of the country and could not comment on what was happening at the airline.
The airline’s chairperson, Jonathan Kadzura, who two weeks ago threatened to take unspecified action against the pilots over the impromptu strike actions could not reached for a comment.
Air Zimbabwe’s hotline usually used by the public to book flights was not being answered when Radio VOP made several calls to enquire about the strike action.
Sources at Air Zimbabwe said the about 40 pilots working for the government’s airline, are grossly underpaid. Their salaries despite being the lowest in the region never came on time since the economic crisis in 2008. The airline is also saddled with a US$60 million dollar debt which according to the Minister of Transport, Nicholas Goche, has proved to be the Achilles hill in the airline’s quest to attract a foreign investor.
Air Zimbabwe has aging aircraft including two Boeing 767 passenger jets, three Boeings’ 737, which were recently suspended after they were adjudged to be past their designed service life and one small Chinese plane for the domestic routes and to Johannesburg.
Air Zimbabwe has an impeccable safety record but has, like every other government company or agency, been short of money for the last decade.
Years of mismanagement and aircraft commandeering by President Robert Mugabe has also compounded the problem.