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Kenya Airways issues sacking notice to pilots

By Macharia Kamau | August 9th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Kenya airways staff checks in a pilot during the launch the resumption of the International flights at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) Nairobi on August 1, 2020. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Kenya Airways (KQ) on Friday notified its pilots of a plan to lay off a number of them as it continues with a restructuring exercise expected to see a substantial number of the airline’s employees rendered jobless.

The carrier had been in plans to reduce its size after Covid-19 broke and grounded nearly all its operations. It noted that even with the resumption of flights, it will still need another two to three years before the industry can normalise.

“We did an extensive internal review of operations in May 2020 and are inevitably forced to carry out an organisation-wide restructuring. This will culminate with, among other things, a reduction in our network, our assets as well as our staff,” said KQ Chief Executive Allan Kilavuka in a letter to the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa).

“Therefore, we write to inform you that following a thorough review, the Kenya Airways board has approved the decision to carry out redundancy across the company network. This, therefore, is a formal notification that we will be commencing redundancy process across the business.”

The airline plans to lay off 40 per cent of its employees in the restructuring. The carrier had a headcount of 3,734 employees as at December last year, which would mean sending home about 1,500 employees.

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KQ hopes the exercise will enable it save about Sh600 million a month currently paid as salaries, which is about half of what it pays its employees currently at Sh1.2 billion a month.

In the letter, Mr Kilavuka noted that even with resumption of flights, the carrier is a long way from where it was before the pandemic hit. He said it would take some time before the aviation industry can resume normal operations.

“Even with the resumption of domestic and international flights, our very limited flying schedule means that sufficient revenues are not coming into our business. With the suppressed demand, a larger part of our fleet will remain grounded,” he said.

“We will also keep operating a reduced network as it will take some time before the industry starts to rebound."

Kalpa had a week ago written an open letter to President Uhuru Kenyatta asking him to halt the layoffs at the airline, terming the move short sighted.  

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