Chipo Matimba, Merna Cremer Leave Air Zimbabwe

Co-Pilots Chipo Matimba and Elizabeth Petros. Picture: Chipo Matimba/Facebook

HARARE – Air Zimbabwe has lost two of its best female pilots who have reportedly joined Emirates and Fast jet.

Chipo Matimba who in November 2015 together with Captain Elizabeth Simbi Petros flew the country’s first ever all-female flight deck crew from Harare to Victoria Falls has reportedly left for Fastjet while Merna Cremer wife to Zimbabwe cricket team captain Graeme Cremer is now at Emirates.

In an interview with the Daily News, Air Zimbabwe corporate services manager Tafadzwa Mazonde said the two had left citing personal reasons.

“The departure of Chipo Matimba and Merna Cremer has in no way compromised the quality of our pilots.

“We still have very good and experienced pilots with the requisite skills and competencies.

“Whilst we appreciate their invaluable experience and contribution to the Airline, some people who trained them are still within Air Zimbabwe and have since trained more good pilots over the time.

“The reasons which were cited during the exit interviews were in no way related to the financial position of the company, rather the reasons for leaving Air Zimbabwe were personal and a pursuit of greener pastures on their part, something which is expected and normal in all organisations for individuals to pursue career growth and personal development,” he said.

Mazonde said the two both left this year albeit on different dates adding that whilst Air Zimbabwe may be in a perceived bad state financially, they are inundated with applications for the various positions that they advertise for from time-to-time meaning they are still a preferred employer in the growing and competitive economy.

“In an economy where a lot of companies are in arrear salaries since January, Air Zimbabwe has strived to ensure that all employees are paid in full and on time.

“That on its own gives our employees a reason to remain committed to the company.

“By ensuring that our employees receive their remuneration, we have managed to retain the core of our staff. Like everyone else, there is need for increased incomes and bonuses. However, once our financial position improves, we will reciprocate by rewarding our committed human resources.

“The departure of an individual employee will in no way cripple the operations of the company,” he said.

He said going forward, resources permitting, Air Zimbabwe will continuously explore ways to enhance the remuneration of pilots, engineers and staff in general.

Mazonde added that the company is in constant engagement with its shareholder, the ministry of Transport so as to ensure “we achieve the common goal of the Airline.”

“Through such collaborative efforts with the ministry, the Airline has managed to meet its day-to-day operational costs without recourse to the government for the past year.

“We, however, receive assistance from government in relation to our annual insurance obligations which require huge outlays,” he said.

Merna Cremer confirmed her departure citing career development.

“I am leaving Air Zimbabwe for career progression. Emirates have a modern fleet operating to over 155 destinations all over the world, an opportunity I’m grateful for.

“Government should be serious about reviving Air Zimbabwe, I have confidence that with the new dispensation there will be positive turnaround at the airline.

“I feel there is urgent need to retain the few pilots that are left at the airline,” she said.

Pilot remuneration is little at Air Zimbabwe compared to that of other airlines where the package is huge and as a result, many have left.

It takes about $100 000 or more to replace a pilot and with the number of pilots leaving Air Zimbabwe, the Airline is at risk of losing all its pilots.