Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Air traffic controllers on strike…. vow ‘No US dollars, no flights’

Nehanda Radio is reliably informed air traffic controllers at Robert Mugabe International Airport went on strike Friday morning and locked themselves up insisting “No US dollars no flights.”

The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare
The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare

More than 300 passengers from South African Airways (SAA) and FASTJET were stuck on the runway.

“They tried to bring airforce but the boys locked themselves in the tower and have declared the airport as closed.”

“No US dollars no flights,” they shouted while notifying the pilot on the radio, a source told Nehanda Radio.

We also understand the air traffic controllers refused to clear Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s private jet “hanzi ngamire.”

Controllers are responsible for issuing landing and take-off instructions to pilots, monitor and direct the movement of aircraft on the ground and in the air using radar, computers or visual references.

This is a breaking story…… more follows 

The view from South African Airways (SAA) plane stuck on the runway.
The view from South African Airways (SAA) plane stuck on the runway.

Background

Only last month a go-slow strike by air traffic controllers caused travelling chaos with planes unable to take-off or land at Zimbabwean airports.

The Air Traffic Controllers Association of Zimbabwe complained that they are underpaid and staff members are no longer capacitated to report for duty posing a threat to air travellers’ safety.

According to a letter from the association to Transport minister, Joel Biggie Matiza, Zimbabwe was risking collisions between aircraft and possible blacklisting of the country by the United Nations’ aviation agency, ICAO, due to its failure to meet a basic requirement.

“We note with concern the continued deterioration in air navigation communication performance. There have been several cases in which there was total loss of air traffic services air-ground communications in the upper airspace,” the memo read in part.

“Worst case scenarios include the 25th of September, 29th of September and 16th of October 2019 where there was communication blackout lasting the whole day. This chaotic and dangerous situation persisted on the 18th of October and continued to be experienced now and then.”

“There is risk of collisions between aircraft, failure to promptly identify and assist aircraft in emergency, delays and increased operating costs for aircraft operators and losses of revenue as aircraft avoid the airspace,” the letter to Matiza read in part.

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