Firing engineers comes back to haunt KQ

Kenya Airways KQ Embraer E190 5Y-KYT The sacking of about 140 technical staff at Kenya Airways seems to have come back to haunt the carrier, as it struggles to service its aircrafts at its Nairobi Hub.

This is amid a network expansion plan in the last 11 months that has stretched its workforce, leading to numerous cancellations and delays.

Pilots at the national carrier have now revealed they have had to have aircrafts serviced outside the country for lack of enough technical staff at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

“There is a problem there because Kenya Airways fired some engineers a while back. They wanted to talk to the MD (managing director) who was unwilling to talk to them and instead he fired them,” Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) General Secretary Nyagah Muriithi responded to an inquiry by the Star in Nairobi.

“There is a shortage of engineers in KQ (as it is known by its international code). That shortage is what is causing KQ to go hire major maintenance services out of the country,” Muriithi noted.

This is in the wake of rising operational costs which grew 15.6 per cent in the first half of the year, closing at Sh61.5 billion compared to Sh53.2 billion similar period last year, amid a Sh8.56 net loss.

The employees were sacked after they went into a go-slow demanding a pay rise.

During the sacking, CEO Sebastian Mikosz said the management would not entertain actions that sabotage the recovery of the airline, which has suffered year-on-year losses.

The sacking came barely a year after the loss-making carrier lost 20 of its most experienced aeronautical engineers to Qatar Airways, in April 2016. The airline had earlier lost 80 engineers to Middle Eastern carriers.

The engineers were poached by the Qataris after one of them repaired a malfunctioning aircraft in a record two hours when it would have taken the internal engineer five hours plus travel time, sources told the Star.

Middle East airlines such as Qatar, Etihad and Emirates have from time to time raided local aviation talent pool including pilots, engineers and business managers to boost their regional presence.On Tuesday, KALPA reported more than 140 pilots have left KQ in the last three years, a gap that is yet to be filled leading to the numerous cancelations on an over stretched crew.“This has been attributed to a hostile working environment within the airline,’ KALPA chairman Njoroge Murimi said at a press […]

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