It seems it’s a tradition for Air Zimbabwe crew to go on a strike at least twice a year. The airline has had a notorious history of remarkable strikes that caused momentous hassle to thousands of passengers. However, country’s economic crisis and the significant amount of debt the company is in contribute towards the current situation and have lead to fading number of passengers. Let’s take a quick replay of the disastrous events that started off back in 2010.
September 08, 2010 was the first day of the first pilot strike at Air Zimbabwe. The crew demanded their full salaries from the airline which it refused to pay and the financial dispute led to 60 pilots going on strike. The passengers had to face sheer dejection as they were stranded for about two weeks until the issue was resolved when the airline promised to pay back the crew’s due share. The first strike is said to have caused a loss of US$5 million to the airline.
It had not been a very long, Air Zimbabwe had begun to float smoothly once again, that the second pilot strike came in on March 23, 2011. It actually shook the national airline of Zimbabwe to the extent that it was picked out from the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP – IATA’s recognition of an airline credit) and was gently put aside. The strike lasted for about a month till April 20, 2011, putting the company into huge amounts of arrears on their outstanding payments. The clash ended only when the management again guaranteed the staff that their salaries will be paid. During the strike bulks of passengers had to bear the delay, with most of them being at the airport when the announcement was made. The majority applied for a refund, which they are still waiting to be reimbursed to date, and opted for other airlines like Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and South African Airways while on the other hand; some of the patriots postponed their travel plans for the love of Air Zim because of their nationality and affection towards this emblem of their international presence.
After about 3 months from the previous blow, when the airline was still struggling to survive and had not even recovered from the enormous loss, Air Zim crew realized that the promises that were made earlier had not been fulfilled. This realization yet again led to yet another bashing strike that started on July 31, 2011. Today is the fifth day and the strike hasn’t come to an end.
The question is will it be possible for the ‘cash-strapped’ airline’s management to convince the crew all over again when the acting chief of the airline, Mr. Mavhunga, has explicitly announced that there are no funds to pay back! We all hope against hope for a better result this time.