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
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.
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