30 November 2012

Namibia: Air Namibia Pilots Back in the Air

Windhoek — Air Namibia and the Namibian Airlines Pilots Association (NAPA) signed an agreement late Wednesday afternoon, bringing to an end the two-week old strike during which the national carrier suffered losses of up to N$5 million a day.

NAPA finally accepted the 5 percent offer that was put on the table by the company at the beginning of the wage negotiations between the two parties. "At the end of the day somebody had to put a stop to the situation and while not all our pilots are happy with the decision we have signed the agreement and all pilots are ready to resume duties," said NAPA president, Christian Schneider.

The average pilot's salary after-tax at Air Namibia ranges from N$14 500 for the lowest grade, which is a co-pilot, to as much as N$43 000 for the highest grade, which is a captain in charge of long-haul flights such as flights to Frankfurt in Germany. According to a statement by Air Namibia, the pilots accepted the 5 percent salary increase on total package and will become effective when services are resumed.

"The agreement was reached on the fundamental principle of the fact that 5 percent is the maximum affordable figure taking into account the financial position of the company, as well as efforts being made by the company to mitigate the effects of inflation that may erode the disposable income of the pilots," said Air Namibia's spokesman, Paul Nakawa, in a statement released to the media yesterday.

NAPA promised to advise their members to resume duty yesterday morning promptly by 06h00. It is estimated Air Namibia has lost approximately N$75 million in revenue due to cancelled flights during the crippling strike. Air Namibia initially offered the pilots a 5 percent salary increment on cost to company across the board, backdated to April 01, 2012 and stuck to this offer throughout the strike.

The pilots association initially declined the offer, saying they had not received an increase since 2009, adding that they now receive about 30 percent less than their counterparts at other airlines in the region.

"In welcoming back our pilots, we have joined each other on this mission to concentrate on the business plan and make it work. We have learned a lot from the experience, especially to be more flexible with any prevailing situation in our quest to provide excellent service to our passengers and minimize disruptions to our operations.

"The industrial action has granted us another season of renewed commitment and hope. We have turned another page of planning strategically together, in order to turn the company around to ensure its sustainability. Our mission remains that of helping tourism to thrive and encouraging business investments to grow in Namibia," concluded Nakawa.

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