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Senior Striking Air Zimbabwe Pilots Disciplined

The executive board of the striking Zimbabwe Pilots Association is going through disciplinary hearings in Harare. The board's eight members have been fired, according to Air Zimbabwe.

Well-placed aviation sources in Harare report that the eight pilots have handed over their uniforms and other Air Zimbabwe paraphernalia in their possession.

The 40 pilots employed by Air Zimbabwe went on strike last week to protest what they say are unpaid allowances that have been outstanding for many months. The pilots ignored a weekend deadline to return to duty.

Air Zimbabwe Board Chairman Jonathan Kadzura said Tuesday the airline invoked the nation's labor laws against 40 striking pilots, but it is unclear whether all have been fired.

Air Zimbabwe, like most Zimbabwe-government enterprises, has been in financial difficulties for at least the past 10 years.

The airline says it has hired other aircraft and crews for its domestic and regional routes during the strike. Its most profitable route is to London and it has been diverting hundreds of passengers to the United Kingdom via Johannesburg.

The pilots' strike is one of the first major work stoppages by civil servants since the unity government came to power in February last year.

President Robert Mugabe and scores of his aides are due to fly Friday to New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting. Air Zimbabwe's fleet of aircraft are old and the interiors are shabby but the airline has a good safety record.