RwandAir to slash staff salaries amid COVID-19 crisis

An airplane of RwandAir bound for China's Guangzhou taxis at Kigali International Airport in Kigali, Rwanda, on June 18, 2019. Rwanda's national carrier RwandAir on Tuesday commenced operating its first flight to China, linking the Rwandan capital Kigali to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. The duration of the flight is 14 hours and 50 minutes, making it the longest flight of RwandAir, according to the airline. RwandAir will fly to Guangzhou three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The flight will be operated by an Airbus A330 with a triple class cabin. (Xinhua/Cyril Ndegeya)
FILE PHOTO: An airplane of RwandAir bound for China’s Guangzhou taxis at Kigali International Airport in Kigali, Rwanda. (Xinhua/Cyril Ndegeya)

Rwanda’s national carrier RwandAir announced that it will slash the net salaries of its staff by between 8 percent and 65 percent as part of measures to cushion the airline from the adverse effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an internal memo issued on Friday, the airline’s CEO Yvonne Makolo said that the lowest paid staff will incur the 8 percent cut while the highest paid staff will incur the 65 percent cut.

The salary cut is just one of the measures announced by the airline which is struggling to cope with the measures imposed by the government to halt the virus’ spread, including the suspension of all flights.

Makolo said that the decision was taken to sustain the existing workforce and avoid the suspension of all employment contracts from April.

“This was an extremely tough decision and we understand the impact this will have on you and your family. However, please know that we considered several other alternatives, and the choice we made is the best option at this time,” Makolo said in part in her statement.

The other measure taken is the alignment of outstation staff salaries to the local payroll whereby certain levels of senior staff will have their pay standardised to that of a lower management level.

“I take this opportunity to reassure you that the management and board of RwandAir Limited is standing with you during these uncertain times and that we are doing all that is possible to safeguard the future of our company,” Makolo added.

These measures are the latest to be announced by RwandAir. Earlier on, the airline announced a raft of measures aimed to maintaining its direct costs having lost its revenue streams. Some of the measures included the forfeiture of April salaries by senior management, extension of suspension of pilot employment contracts and the indefinite suspension of non-essential contracts.

RwandAir flies to 29 destinations, mainly in Africa, and Dubai, Mumbai and Brussels. In February, RwandAir had been in negotiations with Qatar Airways to sell a 49 percent stake to the Gulf airline.

The International Air Travel Association (IATA) had already warned that Africa’s aviation sector would struggle as travel restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic continue to bite.

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