BY EVERSON MUSHAVA/PATRICIA SIBANDA
FLIGHTS were temporarily stopped yesterday after air traffic controllers (ATCs) at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International and Joshua Nkomo International airports downed tools for the second time in a month citing antiquated equipment and poor remuneration.
The first strike on November 26 plunged the airport into chaos, with several passengers inconvenienced when fights failed to take off or land at the RGM International Airport.
Yesterday, travellers were briefly stranded in the morning when they were told to disembark from planes because the traffic controllers were refusing to work.
Travellers at both airports yesterday morning said the planes could not take off at the expected time due to the stand-off, which ended around 11am after the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) held talks with the controllers.
The strike come after weeks of negotiations failed to resolve the dispute, with the ATCs giving notice of a strike on Tuesday over several issues, topped by old equipment and poor salaries.
ATC spokesperson and CAAZ manager Anna-Julia Hungwe confirmed that there was a brief strike, but said the dispute was promptly resolved.
She said the workers resumed their duties after the engagement.
“It was just an operational issue which affected the traffic control, but now, we are okay.
Everyone has resumed work. It’s now all back to normal,” Hungwe said.
A source at the airport revealed that the equipment was old and frequently broke down, giving the controllers a tough time to do their work.
Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza reportedly visited CAAZ on Thursday to try and resolve the issue, but failed to stop yesterday’s strike.
“The air traffic controllers’ downed tools and flights only resumed at around 11am after the CAAZ management held talks with them,” the source said.
ATCs are a key section of CAAZ as they are responsible for issuing landing and take-off instructions to pilots, monitoring and directing the movement of aircraft on the ground and in the air using radar, computers or visual references.