An Air Malawi flight QM-201 (Blantyre to Johannesburg via Lilongwe) scheduled to depart Chileka International Airport at 8 am on Friday delayed by close to six hours following a strike by cabin crew who were demanding a pay hike and better conditions of service.
A visit to the Airport by Weekend Nation found some stranded passengers eagerly waiting in the boarding bay.Â
Senior crewing officer, Ledrex Nkhoma, confirmed the strike, but refused to give details, saying he had not seen the letter that the cabin crew sent management.
He referred the matter to a Mr Mmangeni, an administrator, who refused to speak and in turn referred the matter to the airlineâ€™s spokesperson, Tony Chimpukuso.
The crew are also seeking a restoration of flight allowances (K1 000 per month) which were scrapped without a memo. The crew further want to be accommodated in hotels when resting and not in lodges as is the case at the moment.
â€œI was supposed to be in Johannesburg by 11am. I have a meeting at 2 pm and already that has been cancelled. It was a business meeting and this means I am losing money,â€ said one of the passengers, Louis Chiwalo.
He said he is patriotic and really wants to help the airline, but said he might be forced to think otherwise with such delays.
He then called on the airlineâ€™s administration and the cabin crew to resolve their misunderstandings without holding passengers to ransom.
Meanwhile, Air Malawiâ€™s chief executive officer and other top brass officials were locked up in a discussion with the crew, but some striking staff could be heard vowing that they would not budge.
Chimpukuso promised to talk after the meeting and when he was contacted later, he said: â€œIt was an internal issue. It has been resolved and the aircraft has taken off.â€
He refused to disclose the demands of the striking workers, but said the discussions are ongoing.