Air Zim to continue on freefall: Pilots

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Air Zimbabwe pilots on Monday told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Development that even if they were to work for free, the troubled airline would continue in a loss-making position because the problem was not with paying pilots but poor management decisions.

This was said by Courage Munyanyiwa, the chairman of the Zimbabwe Pilots’ Association.

The pilots, who made a presentation on how the airline had been operating through their spokesperson Charles Chikosi, said there was no way any airline could operate with stressed pilots and outdated planes and equipment, especially lack of proper business strategies by management.

“Pilots working for Air Zimbabwe face many stresses which can be alleviated by appreciation of issues at hand and these include serious breaches of employee contracts, high turnover of experienced and key personnel as well as lack of transparency and dependency syndrome by management,” said Chikosi.

“Pilots operating small four-seater aircraft at Charles Prince Airport are better paid than those at Air Zimbabwe.”

He said part of the solution to the problem was for a skills audit to be conducted so that non-productive personnel were weeded out. Pilots also wanted to have representation in top management and equipment acquisition committees which should show in management structures.

“In the past management has reduced the route network to cut costs, but they have cut routes to the extent that revenue is not adequate to sustain the airline,” said Chikosi.

One of the pilots, Emily Njovani, blamed the decline of the airline to poor management and non-involvement of technical staff in crucial decision-making.

The pilots told the committee that Air Zimbabwe was grossly overstaffed with up to 280 employees servicing one aircraft. As a result, they said, the airline incurred unnecessary overheads.

The pilots said Air Zimbabwe should not recruit foreign pilots.

“There was a time when foreign pilots were supposed to come in and we voiced our opposition to that because we had locals and that obviously was not fair,” said Njovani.