16 November 2012

Namibia: Pilot Strike Grounds Air Nam

FOURTEEN Air Namibia flights scheduled for today and tomorrow have been cancelled after pilots decided to start their strike yesterday.

Domestic, regional and international flights are affected.

The airline's spokesman, Paulus Nakawa, said there was a contingency plan in place.

"Air Namibia management wishes to assure its clients, stakeholders and [the] public at large that the airline has put contingency plans in place to ensure minimum disruptions to its operations," Nakawa said in a statement issued yesterday.

According to him, Air Namibia will announce its contingency plan tomorrow for Sunday's scheduled flights, if the deadlock is not resolved.

The strike follows failed salary negotiations with the cash-strapped national airline.

"The strike follows after a deadlock was reached between management and Napa [Namibian Airline Pilots' Association] executive on the salary negotiations. Management earlier offered a 5% salary increment on cost to company across board, backdated [to] April 1 2012; pilots have declined the offer," Nakawa said.

"In these difficult financial times, the management is caring enough to offer five percent. We cannot not commit ourself beyond that," he said.

Last week, a last-minute meeting averted a strike after Napa had given 62 hours' notice of a strike if there was no agreement in the salary negotiations.

Napa president Christian Schneider said pilots have had no salary increases since 2009 and they have been told the "same thing over and over".

Schneider said pilots have an obligation to return all aircraft to their home base even after commencement of a strike.

Theo Namases, the managing director of Air Namibia, recently said that there was no money for increases.

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