Kenya Airways confirms pilot strike, fear effect on business

Kenya Airways said on Thursday that the planned strike by its pilots who are seeking the resignation of top management is uncalled for and will affect its business.

The airline said in a statement issued in Nairobi that the threatened action is already costing it significant losses as passengers have begun to make cancellations immediately the action was published.

“In addition we risk losing critical support of financiers and suppliers that Kenya Airways is in negotiations with,” it said after the pilots’ union called the strike to press for the firing of the carrier’s CEO Mbuvi Ngunze and the chair of its board, Dennis Awori, saying they lack confidence in the pair’s ability to drive its recovery.

The Kenya Airline Pilot Association (KALPA), an association made up of about 450 pilots, on Monday threatened to down its tools on Oct. 18 if the airline’s two top officials do not resign.

KALPA said the airline’s performance continue to decline in the absence of decisive action relating to the airline’s strategic operations. According to KALPA, the number of pilots working at Kenya Airways has reduced from 525 to 450 in the past one year.

But Kenya Airways said if the union does not forthwith retract its statement, it will have to immediately stop selling tickets on its network, given the costs associated with selling tickets and not carrying these passengers.

“The last industrial action by KALPA in April cost Kenya Airways 2 million U.S. dollars in revenues and cost in a single day, which KALPA did not pay for,” it said.

“The board would like to thank its entire staff compliment for their contribution towards the recovery of the airline and encourages them to continue to do so. We will continue to seek an amicable resolution of all issues raised by the union and urges patience in the matter,” the statement said.

Kenya Airways also announced its net loss for the six months to Sept. 30 stands at 50 million dollars, a 58.3 percent improvement from the 120 million dollars that the airline reported in a similar period last year.

The carrier’s operating profit improved by 20 million dollars boosted by an increase of 89,000 in passenger numbers to 2.23 million. Kenya Airways will release the official results on Oct. 27.

“The board and the management therefore disagree with, and reject KALPA interpretation of Kenya Airways’ current situation and sets out here the correct facts,” it said.

It said these results are on top of the reduction in operating loss by 75 percent between 2014/15 and 2015/2016, and include many revenue and cost initiatives taken by the company as part of Operation Pride recovery program.

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