‘Air Zimbabwe pilots working without contracts’

Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) pilots and many other professionals are working without contracts amid reports of low morale at the national carrier, Parliament has heard.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Air Zimbabwe

Air Zimbabwe

A recent report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport led by Chegutu West MP, Dexter Nduna, recommended that representatives of pilots and engineers should also sit on the board.

“There was generally low morale among both pilots and air traffic controllers, who felt that the importance of their profession was not being given due recognition and support,” the report read.

“This was exacerbated by management’s attitude towards staff welfare issues typified by delayed responses to the concerns of staff.”

The report said pilots noted with concern the lack of job security arising from the fact that they did not have working contracts, but were paid what was termed a “working allowance”.

“This has resulted in an unbridled brain drain of skilled and experienced pilots and engineers, and in addition, there was no visible commitment from management to retain the skilled manpower,” it said.

The report said the underlying frustration from poor working conditions was exacerbated by the apparent lack of engagement at policy level, which had resulted in policy decisions that neither protected nor promoted the national airline.

“For instance, where other airlines are jealously protected by their governments, Zimbabwe had granted licences to new airlines to ply the same routes that AirZim plies, which was unheard of in the industry. All national airlines are protected by their governments and are given the right of first refusal rather than just putting a direct competitor on the same route.”

AirZim management was encouraged to create platforms for engagement and consultation with operational staff and provide timeous feedback on staff welfare issues by end of June 2017.

The government was urged to prioritise clearance of the International Air Traffic Association (Iata) debt to enable AirZim to actively pursue strategic partnerships and alliances with other airlines, which would facilitate the revival of the national airline through opening up more routes.

“Clearance of the Iata debt will unlock value for Zimbabwe by enabling AirZim to create strategic partnerships with other airlines.”

Other recommendations were that the AirZim’s governance structure be modelled in a way that enables management to make quick and viable decisions in a short space of time.

AirZim management was also urged to explore other previously lucrative local routes such as Harare-Beitbridge by the end of June 2017.

“The rather lengthy consultation chain involving management, the board and the parent ministry hinders expeditious decision-making in this cut-throat industry.

“Government should consider giving AirZim a 5% incentive on all tickets sold outside the country by April 2017.”

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