Air Zimbabwe Pilots Threaten Strike

The pilots are said to have written a letter to the airline management last weekend demanding a review of their salaries and over the border allowances which are believed to be among the lowest in the fledging
airline industry.

“They have written a letter which is now with the management. They were expressing their displeasure with the poor pay and late payment,” said an Air Zimbabwe source.

“The letter forced the CEO Peter Chikumba who was out of the country to cut short his trip overseas to come back home last Thursday to deal with the crisis.”

Air Zimbabwe has in the past two years lost a host of experienced pilots to Kenyan Airways, Ethiopian Airways, South African Airways and Asian airlines such as Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Air Zimbabwe whose CEO has in the past called for a partial privatisation of the airline is facing a serious lack of business as it battles to attract customers. This is made worse by the increasing competition on most of its traditional routes in and out of Zimbabwe.

New airlines such as Zambia’s Zambezi Airlines, low budget airline Fly Kumba and Federal Air are now operating some of the routes that were previously exclusive to Air Zimbabwe.

Air Zimbabwe CEO, Peter Chikumba would not deny nor confirm the impending strike by Air Zimbabwe pilots.

“I am yet to hear about that but I cannot deny that we are having problems,” said Chikumba.

But the sources said he had a meeting with the Minister of Transport last Monday to address the matter.

Air Zimbabwe pilots, most of who have remained with the company on patriotic grounds, have in the past often caught their employer off guard.

In 2008, the pilots staged an infamous strike action when they all called in sick at work. The airline was forced to suspend all its flights.