Kenya: Pilots Seeking Mediation to Avert Kenya Airways Crisis

Kenya Airways pilots are seeking a government-appointed mediator to arbitrate over their ongoing dispute with the airline’s management, saying that failure to resolve the labour standoff will lead to a halt in operations.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) has written to Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani declaring a dispute with the national carrier.

The union is accusing Kenya Airways (KQ) of breaching sections of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed with the pilots.

Declaration of a labour dispute is usually part of the final stages of seeking a negotiated resolution before taking industrial action.

"The matter in which the dispute has arisen is that Kenya Airways has breached Clause 37 of the CBA and a memorandum of agreement on the Kenyanisation by engaging the pilots on contract terms without adhering to the stated agreement," said Kalpa chief executive and secretary general Muriithi Nyagah in the letter to Mr Yatani.

"We request you to urgently appoint a conciliator to assist the parties resolve the dispute to avoid eminent industrial unrest," the letter stated.


On Monday, the pilots wrote to KQ chief executive Sebastian Mikosz suspending their goodwill in the CBA negotiations, and accusing the carrier of violating an agreement that required them to hire Kenyan pilots only.

A prolonged industrial action would push the debt-laden airline deeper into the red. KQ’s half-year loss to end of June more than doubled to Ksh8.56 billion ($83 million), sinking shareholders into a negative equity position of Ksh16.18 billion ($166 million).

Kalpa argues that the breach of CBA has elevated tensions within the pilot fraternity, and affected their promotion and training.

In a response to The EastAfrican’s queries, the airline said that the negotiations on the CBA have not collapsed but have been "suspended", and will resume when the trade dispute mechanism is concluded."We are still in the process of recruiting additional captains on the Embraer and B737 fleet as planned and guided by the CBA. As part of the schedule optimisation to improve our operational efficiency, the on-time-performance (OTP) has improved to 82 per cent against an industry standard of 85 per cent," the airline said. Proposed route network The two sides have been sparring for the past two months, culminating in KQ’s decision last month to hire 20 pilots on contracts.Kalpa says the airline is acting against a proposed route network and fleet acquisition plan for 2019-2020, which the management shared with the pilots in the last […]

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