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KQ pilots demand resignation of top two in seven-day strike notice

By Moses Michira | October 12th 2016
Kenya Airline Pilot Association General secretary Paul Gichinga and Chairman Njoroge Murimi addressing a press conference issuing a 7 day strike notice if Ambassador Dennis Awori and Mr. Mbuvi Ngunze will not have resigned by then. They are asking for the government to put in place a team with vital credentials in commercial aviation and Business transformation urgently to oversee Kenya Airways recovery this was at Panafric hotel, Nairobi. ON 11/10/2016 PHOTO; JENIPHER WACHIE

Kenya Airways (KQ) pilots have issued a seven-day strike notice demanding resignation of their chief executive officer and board chairman.

The pilots, through the Kenya Airlines Pilots Association, said the two officials; Mbuvi Ngunze and Dennis Awori respectively, were directly responsible for the massive losses reported.

Mr Ngunze survived in a past strike after senior managers including the Human Resources Director Alban Mwendar resigned.

"No pilots will be flying from 5am next Tuesday," said Paul Gichinga, the association's secretary general, referring to the effective date of October 18.

He added that the resignation of the two officials was only part of their "bare minimum" demands to avert the strike.

He added: "Should they stay on, the airline will definitely die and we will have no jobs." He was accompanied by about 20 pilots and first officers.

Previous strikes by the pilots were mostly to force the airline to improve the working conditions, including offering better salaries.

The association said more than 50 pilots had left the airline and got recruited mostly in Qatar, where salaries are much higher than what KQ pays.

Insiders told The Standard that a captain's salary is about Sh1 million a month.

Implications of the pilots' strike are severe for the ailing company, which might be forced to cancel many travel tickets already issued.

Travellers might also be forced to reschedule their planned trips in and out of the country, affecting many more businesses, including hotels.

Ngunze is serving his first term after his June 2014 appointment to succeed former boss, Titus Naikuni, while Mr Awori was elected chairman in November last year.

Should the two leave office, they will be the shortest-serving bosses of the airline, which can be described as technically insolvent.

KQ has reported cumulative losses for the past three years of over Sh60 billion, which have wiped out the shareholder wealth in the firm.

The latest financial performance released in July was the worst yet at Sh26.2 billion, with the management blaming high finance and fleet management costs.

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