The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Air Namibia Counts Losses As Pilots' Strike Continues

AIR Namibia could be losing about N$5 million per day in potential revenue due to the pilots' strike that began on Friday, says the airline's spokesman, Paulus Nakawa.

"This does not include monies we have to pay other airlines for accepting our passengers, and does not include the cost of cancellations and accommodation and possible claims," he told The Namibian yesterday.

The ten flights that were cancelled yesterday and today followed 14 flights that were called off on Friday and Saturday last week.

Theo Namases, the managing director of Air Namibia, yesterday confirmed that the strike was still on.

The strike followed a deadlock in salary negotiations between management and the Namibian Airline Pilots' Association (Napa).

Management earlier offered a 5% salary increase on cost to company across the board, backdated to April 1 2012, but the pilots have declined the offer.

"We are negotiating but are getting closer to finding a solution. By tomorrow afternoon, we might be able to give you an update on the latest," Namases said.

Nakawa said they had cancelled most regional flights such as those to Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

"These routes are serviced by our ERJ 135 Embraer Jet, which is a 37-seater, all economy class," he said about the number of affected passengers.

According to him, the national airline was currently using contract pilots who are not members of Napa or those who have decided not to strike.

He said the national airline would give passengers the opportunity to reschedule or cancel their flights which may not be affected by the strike.

"We have also made arrangements to reroute some of our affected passengers on partner airlines such as SAA and British Airways or Comair, " the spokesperson added.

Nakawa said all passengers on the affected flights will be rebooked on Air Namibia flights at no extra cost.

According to him, rerouting to other airlines is allowed but South African Airways will have first option as per standing agreement on rerouting.

Napa president Christian Schneider yesterday said the strike was continuing and so were the negotiations.

Schneider said the pilots had had no salary increases since 2009 and they also hoped that a solution would be found.

"Napa members are aware of the inconvenience and economic loss that cessation of the schedule of the country's national carrier would cause. Industrial action is seen very much as a last resort. Every attempt has been made to avoid a strike."

Â"At every step in the process, which has lasted almost two years, Napa has attempted to find a reasonable solution in good faith. No decision has been or will be taken lightly," he added.

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