Zimbabwe’s sole airline, Air Zimbabwe, has resolved to introduce short working hours with effect┬á┬á from┬ánext┬ámonth in a bid to reduce the wage bill by 50% as it┬áfaces operational constraints.
In statement┬á┬á released on Monday, Air┬á Zimbabwe┬á Chief┬á┬á Executive┬á┬á Officer,┬á Patrick┬á┬á Chikumba, said┬á the┬á┬á airline┬á┬á is┬á┬á now┬á unable┬á to meet┬á┬á its┬á expenditure┬á therefore┬á it┬á┬á has┬á┬á to scale down on┬á operations at┬á the same┬á┬á time┬á reducing working┬á hours.
“The situation has not improved quickly and Air Zimbabwe is now unable to meet its expenditure, including salaries. In discussions we held with the Workers’┬áCommittee, it┬áhas been agreed to reduce the salary bill by 50%, in addition to other costs reduction┬áand revenue generation measures already implemented.
“In order to give effect to these arrangement members of staff are advised that┬á┬á Air Zimbabwe will introduce shift and short time work with effect from June 1, 2009.
“Given the complexity of the exercise and the reality of the challenges, the┬áairline requests and expects understanding from all employees in the interest of all staff,” said┬áChikumba in┬áa statement.
Chikumba told the Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Infrastructure last week that Air Zimbabwe’s foreign debt stood at close to US$28 million.
Meanwhile, a Zimbabwean businessman is┬ásuing Air Zimbabwe for US$10,000 dollars because staff on a flight failed to serve him with a vegetarian meal as requested.┬á
Jayesh Shah, a company director, had asked for a special vegetarian meal on a flight from Singapore to Harare in September last year, but did not get it. ┬á
He demanded compensation and, when the airline failed to pay up, he took them to the Harare High Court last week, insisting that Air Zimbabwe had broken its contract with him to provide him with a meat-free meal. In its┬áresponse, the airline says Shah’s claim is exorbitant compensation for any damages he may have suffered by going without his vegetarian dish. ┬á
Air Zimbabwe says the in-flight food is provided by a South African company and that it can supply special meals only if the food is available. ┬á
Air Zimbabwe also plans to close the numerous unprofitable routes imposed on it by the former government of President Robert Mugabe.
┬áSenior officials said the airline had been stricken by the new unity government’s clampdown on state cash bail-outs.