The Zimbabwe government late this week was assembling a US$9 million financial rescue package for Air Zimbabwe, much the same as it did in April, to pay the outstanding salaries and allowances of pilots who have gone on strike.
Sources said Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Transport Minister Nicholas Goche were close to finalizing a cash infusion of US$9.2 million to pay off the pilots.
Neither minister could be reached for comment. But sources said Harare would draw funds from other programs to rescue the state carrier. The airline is said to have lost US$2 million in revenue due to the latest strike by disgruntled employees.
Economist John Robertson said the government should stop rescuing Air Zimbabwe which must to be privatized if it is to become profitable. “The government does not have funds for bailing out under-performing parastatals,” Robertson said.
Nolwazi Mlilo, whose mother had intended to fly on Air Zimbabwe to another daughter’s wedding in London last week, said the state carrier is a national embarrassment.
“It is sickening to note that the airline management has not even bothered to contact me about my mother who has been stranded for a week in Zimbabwe,” said Mlillo.
More than 200 passengers were stranded in Britain as the airline canceled all flights.
Pilots earn US$1,200 to US$2,500 a month plus allowances of up to US$10,000.