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Striking Zimbabwe pilots return to work

HARARE, Sept 24 – Striking pilots at Zimbabwe\’s national carrier have ended their two-week action after a pay deal with government, officials said Friday.

"All pilots have agreed to return to work and subject to operation requirements being met, normal flights are expected to resume Friday," transport minister, Partson Mbiriri said in a statement.

"All employees shall be paid their deferred allowances as mutually agreed upon. Suspension orders shall be withdrawn and no attendant disciplinary measures will be taken against any of the pilots."

The pilots went on strike two weeks ago demanding payment of their allowances that had accrued since February last year.

Air Zimbabwe management then issued the pilots with a 24-hour ultimatum to return to work or face dismissal.

The strike was costing the struggling airline 500,000 US dollars a day, officials said.

Jonathan Kadzura, chairman of Air Zimbabwe board, said no action would be taken against the 44 pilots.

"All our flights are scheduled to resume today as the strike action is over," Kadzura told AFP.

During the strike, Air Zimbabwe resorted to leasing a Boeing 737 from Air Aquarius from South Africa to fly passengers hit by the action.

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The strike led to the cancellation of all Air Zimbabwe flights, including those to Britain, South Africa and Zambia.

The carrier is one of several state-owned firms that have posted losses and have been shortlisted for a sell-off. The airline is weighed down by debt, an ageing fleet and high staff turnover.

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