Zim airline boss quits

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Harare -The boss of Zimbabwe's debt-ridden national carrier Air Zimbabwe has quit, days after a second strike by pilots grounded several planes, the airline announced on Thursday.

"The board of Air Zimbabwe would like to take this opportunity to announce that group chief executive officer Peter Chikumba will be leaving the airline with effect from January 1 2011," the company said in statement.

Chikumba had been the airline's chief executive officer for four years.

Air Zimbabwe said the decision had been reached by mutual agreement.

"I will be leaving to pursue other business," Chikumba told AFP, confirming his departure but refusing to elaborate on what he would be doing.

Air Zimbabwe pilots went on strike in September and early December demanding salary increases and improved working conditions.

Chikumba's resignation also comes months after a parliamentary investigation discovered that the national airline was operating on an overdraft and was unable to service its planes or pay debts estimated at $64m.

The airline, one of several state-owned utilities which the government plans to sell, is weighed down by debt, an ageing fleet and high staff turnover.

Air Zimbabwe used to fly on 25 routes, but currently services just seven as it tries to minimise costs.

Air Zimbabwe is separately embroiled in a legal battle with about 400 sacked workers who are demanding $1.3m in severance pay awarded to them by an independent arbitrator.

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