Air Zimbabwe dismisses striking pilots

Air Zimbabwe says striking pilots who defied a 24-hour deadline to return to work should consider themselves fired.

The pilots and cabin crew walked out of work on Wednesday, demanding payment of allowances that were cut off in February.

The cash-strapped national airline says it cannot meet the pilots' demands.

The national carrier will be hiring planes from South African private airline Quaries and its pilot to ply the regional and local routes.

The Friday deadline has come and gone and the striking pilots are still digging in.

Air Zimbabwe chairman Jonathan Kadzura says they are not going to entertain the pilots' demands, and the pilots should consider themselves fired.

He said in actual fact, they fired themselves by embarking on an illegal protest.

The Air Zimbabwe board will meet again on Tuesday to map the way forward.

Mr Kadzura says other regional arlines and pilots will be engaged to help the situation, as the national airline is losing half a million US dollars a day as a result of the strike.

Close to 1,000 stranded passengers have been booked into hotels, after the Air Zimbabwe flights were cancelled.

There is no sign that the pilots will ever bow down to management demands that they return to work.

The industrial action is compounding Air Zimbabwe's financial woes and denting its image.

The striking pilots are tight lipped, maintaining a distance from the media.

Since Wednesday, pilots and management have been involved in marathon meetings, which until now have proved fruitless. The labour dispute is expected to spill into the courts.

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