Empty seats for Air Zimbabwe’s first flight after pilots’ strike

2011-09-17 10:04

Harare – No passengers turned up for Air Zimbabwe’s first flights after a seven-week strike by pilots, its chief executive admitted, according to media reports today.

Air Zimbabwe chief Innocent Mavhunga said it would take six months for the beleaguered national airline to regain customer confidence, the daily Herald reported.

“We have started operations, but we have not yet started the physical flying because there are no passengers,” he said.

None of Friday’s scheduled domestic flights took to the skies on the pilots’ first day back at work due to the lack of passengers.

This was attributed in part to the airline’s last-minute announcement that flights would resume, which was only made yesterday.

“Hard work is really needed to restore customer confidence and we must take into account that it takes time to build (confidence in) the market,” Mavhunga told the Herald.

“It’s like we are re-entering the market.”

The pilots grounded flights from July 29 in protest at the non-payment of salaries and allowances.

President Robert Mugabe’s government pumped an additional $2.8 million (R21 million) into Air Zimbabwe this week, allowing management to come to an agreement with workers.

But the Herald said workers “were still owed their July and August salaries”, raising the spectre of fresh strike action.

“We have agreed in principle with the workers and we will work hard to resolve what we owe them,” Mavhunga said.

Air Zimbabwe is due to resume international flights next week.

The strike has cost the national carrier $6.8 million, Mavhunga said.

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