KQ pi­lots call strike, threaten to quit

The union gave one week ul­ti­ma­tum for an over­haul of the top man­age­ment led by CEO Ngunze and chair­man Awori

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - WEITERE MWITA @MwitaMartin

Strug­gling Kenya Air­ways may lose 35 more pi­lots who have ap­plied for jobs with ri­val air­lines, a well-placed source within the pi­lots lobby group told the Star yes­ter­day.

This will add to the ris­ing staff at­tri­tion at the loss-mak­ing na­tional car­rier, a chal­lenge chief ex­ec­u­tive Mbuvi Ngunze said is a “mat­ter of con­cern”.

About 75 pi­lots and 50 engi­neers have left the air­line in the last one and a half years, the Kenya Air­line Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion said yes­ter­day.

This has left KQ with about 450 pi­lots from 525 one and a half years ago.

The ex­o­dus is largely mo­ti­vated by bet­ter pack­ages be­ing of­fered by other air­lines, es­pe­cially the Mid­dle East Air­lines, Kalpa sec­re­tary gen­eral Paul Gichinga said yes­ter­day.

“We could be talk­ing of an in­cre­ment (in pay pack­age) from 50 to 100 per cent from what is be­ing given lo­cally,” he said. “A lot of pi­lots and engi­neers are ap­ply­ing. Pi­lots are mov­ing be­cause things are not sta­ble in this coun­try. We have asked the com­pany [Kenya Air­ways] to come up with ways of stop­ping this brain drain.”

The union gave a week’s ul­ti­ma­tum for an over­haul of the top man­age­ment led by Ngunze and board chair Den­nis Awori, fail­ing which its mem­bers will down tools from next Tues­day.

“We wish to in­form all the air­line’s stake­hold­ers that Kalpa mem­bers will from 5am Oc­to­ber 18, 2016, down tools un­til a com­pre­hen­sive change of guard at Kenya Air­ways is ef­fected,” Gichinga told a press con­fer­ence.

The KQ man­age­ment, through cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Wan­jiku Mugo, had not is­sued a state­ment by the time of go­ing to the press de­spite hav­ing promised to do so.

Gichinga said Kalpa has con­sis­tently pointed out the in­ef­fi­ciency crip­pling the na­tional car­rier over the past six years.

A brain drain at the trou­bled air­line code-named KQ has left its tech­ni­cal depart­ment greatly un­der­staffed caus­ing de­lays and safety con­cerns.

This has caused an in­crease in flight dis­rup­tions and can­cel­la­tions due to tech­ni­cal hitches for loss of engi­neers who have been poached by rich Mid­dle East air­lines – Qatar Air­ways and Emi­rates.

KQ is also fac­ing trou­bled times with a se­ri­ous cash hitch, amid com­plaints of de­te­ri­o­rat­ing ser­vice and high air­fares.

In July, the air­line an­nounced a Sh26.2 bil­lion after tax loss for the full year ended March 31.

Ngunze could not be reached for com­ment as his tele­phone went unan­swered.

/ENOS TECHE

Kenya Air­line Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion as­sis­tant trea­surer Matthew Karimi, sec­re­tary gen­eral Paul Gichinga with trustee cap­tain Al­lan Alu­vale dur­ing the KALPA’s Kenya Air­ways brief­ing in Nairobi yes­ter­day

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