Over the past few weeks, Kenya Airways (KQ) has been facing the anger of its pilots. Earlier in October, the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) issued a strike notice for Wednesday, November 2nd. However, the airline has now received a court order preventing its pilots from going on strike. Let’s look closer at what’s going on at Kenya’s flag carrier.
Pilots to demand a change of leadership at Kenya Airways
There has been some turbulence between Kenya Airways and its pilots recently, to the point that the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) issued a strike notice for Wednesday, November 2nd.
The origin of the strike is the continuous disputes between Kenya Airways pilots’ union and the airline’s management. The main concern for Kenya Airways’ pilots appears to be the fact that the carrier has discontinued contributions to a provident fund in 2020 and has never resumed them since. According to Kalpa, the union has made several pleas to Kenya Airways’ leadership to address the issue. However, no action seems to have been taken from part of the airline.
Photo: Vincenzo Pace I Simple Flying
Additionally, the pilot union has also accused Kenya Airways’ leadership of mismanagement, including the continuous breach of some Kenya Civil Aviation Regulations. Therefore, the Kenya Airline Pilots Association demands a complete restructuring of Kenya Airways’ board and management to lead the airline out of the current status of crisis.
Kenya Airways CEO, Allan Kilavuka, stated that the airline has still not managed to strike an agreement with the union. Nonetheless, Kilavuka affirmed the airline is willing to have further discussions with Kalpa to address the issues raised by the association.
Kenya Airways granted an injunction to stop the strike
It is common knowledge that pilots’ strikes can severely compromise an airline’s stability. Therefore, the Kenyan carrier had to act fast to find a solution to prevent such a disruptive event from materializing.
Immediately after Kalpa issued the strike notice, the Kenya Airways board requested an injunction against the Kenya Airline Pilot Association to the Kenyan Labor Court, which was granted on Monday, October 31st. Meanwhile, Kenya Airways’ Board has refused Kalpa’s request to step down. In a letter to the airline’s employees, Michael Joseph, the airline’s chairman, stated the airline’s leadership would not indulge the pilot association’s request for a complete board overhaul. Moreover, Joseph underlined how the planned strike would not serve the pilots’ cause.
Photo: Getty Images
According to Kenya Airways’ chairman, the airline has already started to settle some of the deferred salaries, while deferred contributions are planned to be paid beginning in 2023. According to Joseph, the airline could not start settling both costs at the same time because of other looming expenses, such as aircraft leasing costs. Kenya Airways’ chairman concluded the letter by stating that no threats or coercion of any kind would lead him to resign unless the airline’s board directly asked for his resignation.
Kenya Airways’ enhanced performance
In the letter to the employees, Kenya Airways’ chairman, Michael Joseph, reassured the airline’s staff that the carrier’s performance has been improving over the last six months. He mentioned improved frequencies, load factors, and financials, which should lead the African carrier to break even by 2024.
Photo: Getty Images
According to the Official Airline Guide (OAG), in March 2022, Kenya Airways operated 1,183 frequencies (one-way) from its hub, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO). Six months later, in October 2022, one-way frequencies increased to 1,381. Over the last six months, Kenya Airways has also increased capacity, with Available Seat Kilometers (ASKs) up 27% in October compared to March and an 18% increase in the number of seats offered.
Kenya Airways flies an average of 260,000 passengers each month. A potential strike from part of the airline’s pilots would affect 60 to 70 flights, causing a $2.5 million daily loss; a scenario the African carrier surely cannot afford now.
Simple Flying reached out to Kenya Airways for further comment. We will update the article with any additional announcements from the airline.
Sources: Bloomberg; Nation
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Allan Kilavuka