According to sources who attended meetings to resolve the two-week industrial action which has seen Air Zimbabwe losing about US$8,5 million in potential revenue due to flight cancellations, it was agreed that pilots would resume work today.
A total of 42 pilots downed tools demanding outstanding allowances backdated to February last year.
Contacted for comment by businessdigest yesterday, Air Zimbabwe CEO Peter Chikumba confirmed that normal flights would resume today, saying an official statement from the ministry would be released late yesterday.
“After a number of meetings we managed to find a reasonable solution. We are looking forward to seeing them (pilots) back at work on Friday (today),” Chikumba said.
“We will resume normal flights with our own pilots. We really apologise to all passengers who were inconvenienced,” he said.
Asked if the national airline had agreed to pay the pilots their outstanding salaries, Chikumba said he “does not talk about Air Zimbabwe employees’ salaries to the media”.
Air Zimbabwe had to lease a Boeing 737 from Air Aquaria to fly passengers. Two months ago, Air Zimbabwe leased a Fokker 28 from the same company after the Modern Ark 60 went for maintenance.
Air Zimbabwe chairman, Jonathan Kadzura, said the national airline was losing about US$500 000 daily since pilots went on strike on September 8.
The figure does not include meals that Air Zimbabwe paid for stranded passengers and hotel bills for travellers who had to be booked at different hotels.
On September 8 striking pilots were told that they could lose their jobs if they did not return to work.
In a statement, Kadzura said: “The board and management have resolved to give them a 24-hour notice to go back to work. It must be understood clearly that the industrial action is illegal and if they do not go back to work inside the 24 hours, legal and disciplinary action will be taken.”
He added that “Government does not have any money”.
Air Zimbabwe flies two 767s between Harare-China and Harare-London. The airline also has two 737s which service regional routes, including flights to South Africa, Lusaka and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Domestic routes are mainly plied by the Modern Ark 60 plane.
According to information from the national airline yesterday, a return ticket to London excluding tax which is paid to the Civil Aviation Authority Zimbabwe (CAAZ) cost US$3 958. The Boeing-767 which carries 197 passengers services the route.
A return ticket to Bulawayo, excluding tax, costs US$202 and Victoria Falls US$270.
A return Lubumbashi ticket, excluding tax, costs US$525 while the Lusaka route is US$368. The Boeing 737 plane with a capacity of 105 passengers services the two routes. A return ticket to South Africa including tax costs US$405.