By Claire Ferris-Lay
Pilots fail to show for shifts in second round of employee walkouts in seven months
Oman Air, the Gulf sultanate’s flagship carrier, has seen its second round of employee unrest in seven months after a number of pilots last week failed to turn up for work.
The state airline was forced to delay several flights after pilots failed to show up for their shifts on Friday, after making a number of demands related to their working conditions.
“A number of pilots at Oman Air did not report to work [on] 26 August 2011. The pilots had previously formulated a number of demands which were being considered by the management and the board of the airline,” the airline said in an emailed statement.
“Demands have now been addressed and finalised, and communicated to the pilots. We are hopeful that our operations will return to normal as soon as possible.”
Around 200 Oman Air employees went on strike in March demanding higher salaries and better working conditions. The move followed a string of civil demonstrations in the sultanate against wage levels and unemployment.
The airline doubled some staff salaries under a pay deal agreed in the wake of the dispute, a move it said was likely to see it run at a loss until 2014 under the burden of higher operational costs.
The airline said it would backdate pay increases to March 1, 2011, to increase meal allowances and introduce an annual cost-of-living pay increase. Oman Air also pledged to review health cover for all grades, including cover for the families of staff.
Oman Air posted a $203m loss last year due to operational costs and a fleet expansion programme. The airline flew 38 percent more passengers than in 2009.
Under a five-year plan, the airline will invest in fleet and route expansion. The airline is due to receive three aircraft in 2011 and plans to launch routes to Zanzibar and Moscow.