Kenya Airways (KQ) technicians yesterday went on a go-slow that led to serious delays and flight cancellations.
The latest disruptions of flight schedules follows an undisclosed number of technicians failing to show up for work. The technicians who mainly include flight engineers have been demanding a pay rise.
However, a statement issued late yesterday indicated that close to 88 flights had taken off from across the network by 6pm and promised to ensure the few disrupted flights are on schedule.
“We wish to advise that the evening flights are expected to be on schedule with limited cancellations and few delays. We thank you for your continued support as we strive to normalise operations and regret any inconveniences caused.”
Sources said the technicians’ union leaders wrote a letter to the management detailing their demands, which was ignored, leading to the go-slow.
“We would like to advise our guests that we have some delays due to a number of our technicians going on a go-slow. We continue to work to reduce these disruptions and are advising any guests affected directly. We regret any inconveniences caused,” explained the airline’s management.
However, by afternoon, industry insiders say the technicians had temporarily resumed their duties to allow for negotiation. This deal was brokered after a lengthy meeting with outgoing Chief Executive Officer Mbuvi Nguze.
“Our technical team is a vital part of our business and we are currently working to resolve any outstanding issues. We request that you (passengers) bear with us as we work to normalise our operations and we will keep updating you on our progress,” read in part KQ’s earlier statement released in the morning.
Despite the return to normalcy of operations, the KQ management maintained the strike is illegal, saying no deal had been reached in the meeting with the engineers.
The airline issued another statement saying the flight cancellations had been overturned and operations were returning to normalcy.
“We would like to advise our guests that while we still have a few flight delays due to a number of our technicians going on a go-slow, a majority of the flights are on schedule for the rest of the day,” the statement confirming resumption to normal operations read.
“Today, we had 58 flights scheduled to take off from across the network by 1pm and 51 have departed. We continue to work to reduce disruptions and are advising the affected guests directly,” it continued.
The go-slow is one of many labour disputes that are facing the airline.
Apart from the issue of salary increment, the engineers have previously complained of being hugely understaffed and had attempted a similar go-slow in October this year.
In October 16 this year, the airline, which has been facing increased turbulence due to continued losses, was forced to cancel several flights after some pilots also failed to show up for work.
Again on November 3, the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) pilots union withdrew a strike notice it had issued in October after reaching an agreement with the board.
The union said most of their demands had been met, key among them being the removal of top managers who they blamed for the troubles facing the airline.