CS defends KQ, tells pilots to call off strike
James Macharia says the government will use levers under law to take action against Kalpa members who defy the directive
The government yesterday threw its weight behind the besieged management of the Kenya Airways and demanded the Kenya Airlines Pilots Association calls off planned strike next Tuesday.
Transport CS James Macharia said 90 per cent of board and senior management members have been in the office for between four and 24 months.
“There is ...a responsible and systematic management of staff departures, including at management and board level,” Macharia said in a statement. “While it is easy to demand management changes, stakeholders need to understand that in a business as complex as KQ’s, hurried and emotionally-driven actions can be counterproductive.”
The CS said the airline was system- atically recruiting new talent for key management and board positions. Former Safaricom chief executive Michael Joseph has recently joined the board following the annual general meeting on September 29, with speculations rife he may take over the reins on the board.
The CS, however, said the union overstepped its mandate as only the board and shareholders can sack the CEO or board chair.
“The government demands the immediate withdrawal of the strike notice by Kalpa,” he said, warning the leadership and membership that such an action “during this very delicate stage in (KQ) recovery is tantamount to economic and national sabotage”. He added: “The government will use all levers available under law to take action against those that will defy this directive.”
He said the government, which controls about 27 per cent stake in KQ, has confidence in the airline’s turnaround strategy “Operation Pride” which it fully supports.
“Indeed, advance financial results released by KQ indicate a 58.3 per cent improvement in its net profit position as well as a break-even of operating profits.”
KQ management had earlier in the day reported in an advance financial results that arrivals increased by 89,000 guests to 2.23 million in the six months to September compared with 2.14 million the same period last year.
There was an improvement in operating profit of Sh2 billion during the half-year period, while net losses dropped to Sh5 billion from Sh12 billion in the same period last year.
The cabin factor, generally used to assess how well an airline fills seats and generates fare revenue,improved by three percentage points to 71 per cent from 68 per cent, the KQ said.
Kenya Airways Captain Irene Koki inside the Dreamliner at the JKIA