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Air Zimbabwe Pilots Return to Work, But Carrier's Future Still Looks Bleak

  • Gibbs Dube

Sources said the government paid US$2.8 million under an agreement with pilots and cabin crew to get the state carrier’s planes back in the air.

Air Zimbabwe has resumed resumed most flights following intervention this week by the Harare government to settle financial claims by striking pilots and cabin crew.

Sources said the government paid US$2.8 million Wednesday under an agreement with pilots, flight engineers and cabin crew to get the state carrier’s planes back in the air.

Under the agreement, airline employees agreed to forego some US$4.5 million in back wages and allowances outstanding from 2007 and 2008.

The government, striking workers and Air Zimbabwe management agreed that the arrears estimates were based on inflated figures from the country's bout of hyperinflation.

Air Zimbabwe General Manager for Europe David Mwenga said the deal has brought relief to thousands of travelers. “We are happy that travelers will be able to use Air Zimbabwe during and after the Easter holidays,” Mwenga said.

Publisher Mark Mansfield of Airnews, which covers African aviation, said that though the strike has been ended Air Zimbabwe's future is bleak. “Zimbabwe must realize that it is losing a valuable asset and what is worrying is that private investors cannot rescue the national airline because of the current political situation in the country,” he said.

“Zimbabwe needs to work hard to clean the reputation of both the country and airline,” said Fly Magazine Publisher Guy Leitch, also based in Johannesburg.

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