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Kenya Airways pilots suspend action against management

By Paul Wafula | January 27th 2016 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Kenya Airways dreamliner

NAIROBI: Kenya Airways pilots have suspended an action against the airline’s management planned for this week until next month when a board meeting is expected to deliberate on their issues.

The pilots' union yesterday told The Standard they had decided to delay their action after talks with the airline’s management.

“We did not meet the chairman of the board but we met other board members. We have decided to extend the period to next month. There is a board meeting on 4th and we will await until they sit and discuss the issues we have raised,” Captain Paul Gichinga, the Chief Executive of the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) said yesterday.

The union last week gave Kenya Airways top management a week to quit or face unspecified consequences. The association wants ‘immediate resignation of the CEO and all the directors of the national carrier’.

The union, however, declined to say what action it will take if the airline’s management does not heed its demands. “We all want the best for the airline but we do not think the current management is capable of getting us out of the current crisis. There are two reports that show that most of the staff do not have confidence in the current management,” Mr Gichinga said.

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This comes as a great relief for the airline, which has been trying to set its foot on a turnaround strategy. Any disruptions would have disrupted the airline’s management from fixing the challenges that pushed it deep into loses, reporting Sh25 billion loss last year.

It comes at a time when it has emerged the two employee unions have differed on the way forward, with the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) supporting the current management. Kawu, which draws its membership from other airline staff other than pilots, has accused KALPA of lacking the mandate to force a regime change.

Pilots have consistently put the airline under pressure and have also been accused of sabotaging the airline’s efforts to recoup the losses by withdrawing goodwill.

Treasury revealed there would be more changes at the airline as it starts implementing a turnaround plan that includes restructuring of the top management team. The airline’s Finance Director Alex Mbugua was sent home last week, making him the first casualty in the restructuring plan after serving for almost eight years at the national carrier. Treasury says the Government and the airline have agreed on a plan, which is now being implemented to turn the airline’s fortunes around.

“The plan is now taking shape and we are in the final stages of its implementation. We receive constant briefs from management on what actions they are taking. The main highlights of the plan is revenue management, cash flows, stopping the airline from further bleeding as well as cost restructuring. On our part we shall provide support in terms of resources,” Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich told The Standard.

Rotich said there is a restructuring plan that has complete details of both management changes and where the airline needs to cut costs. It also has details on the new capacities needed at the airline.

The Government is, however, yet to decide how much it will pump into the airline. Initial estimates showed that the airline would need about Sh60 billion in new capital injection.

Kenya Airways Henry Rotich Kenya Airline Pilots Association
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