Kenya Airways (KQ) continues to struggle to pull out of the harsh economic climate as it announced new rules and regulations targeting its core staff - pilots.
In an interview with a local daily, Chief Executive Allan Kilavuka said the airline is considering paying its pilots according to the number of flights they make.
If implemented, the pay structure would be similar to that in the matatu industry where many drivers are paid by the trips they make.
“We are looking at an arrangement where we pay pilots as they fly,” Mr Kilavuka told the Business Daily. “Where do we get cash to pay pilots if planes are grounded?”
The national flag carrier was struggling to regain its footing amid dwindling profits and reducing passenger numbers even before the global Covid-19 pandemic hit the aviation industry.
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But the proposal by the CEO has run into immediate resistance from the pilots, with their union accusing the airline’s top executives of sabotaging the once illustrious Kenya Airways brand.
“It is unfortunate to report that the picture now emerging is that of an airline keen on sabotaging itself under the guise of Covid-19,” the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) said in a statement yesterday.
The association also accused the airline’s management of an array of failures that it says are preventing KQ from dominating the skies once again.
Among the complaints is the continuous closure of sales offices across the country, which the union says has caused significant inconvenience to passengers.
“The customer care service call centre is thoroughly understaffed with a dysfunctional phone system that is constantly dropping calls, and if successfully connected, calls go unanswered,” the statement read.
“Potential clients are, therefore, forced to purchase tickets with other airlines as a result of this.”
There is also the issue of undercutting, with the pilots’ union saying the management’s favouring of JamboJet, a KQ subsidiary, is contributing directly to the parent airline’s downfall.
“Jambojet operates more frequencies to our core Kenyan destinations compared to the other company,” the pilots said.
“Despite Jambojet having higher fares (in many cases) to these local destinations, they fly more passengers due to their wider choice in flight frequencies in comparison to KQ.”
The union said this demonstrated that KQ is not losing potential revenue due to lack of market share but has “deliberately decreased its competitive advantage to benefit the subsidiary.”
Kalpa said the continued actions by its employer are operational and financial sabotage of the national carrier.
“Sabotage of the core business is a clear indication of lack of foresight,” Kalpa said.