KQ blames pilots’ union, CBA in operational hitches

Outgoing Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz during an interview on Thursday, September 5, 2019. National carrier Kenya Airways is now blaming its pilots’ union and the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for its operational woes.

The carrier has recently suffered numerous flight cancellations and delays.

Pilots, who enjoy the terms of the CBA, have been calling in sick a few hours to take-off.

Under the CBA, pilots can be absent for up to 48 hours without providing any medical evidence. The agreement also limits Kenya Airways management from hiring more pilots and flight crew, which has forced it to operate with limited staff.

KQ is said to have delayed 40 per cent of the flights in the first seven months of 2019. The cancelled flights cost the airline Sh118 million. The cancelled flights were 52 in the first 18 days of August alone.

"The cancellations are due to the fact that we expanded the network with the same fleet. We flew more during the high season. We are at a point where the CBA gives so many rights and so much complexity that you cannot crew properly,” CEO Sebastian Mikosz told the Star in Nairobi yesterday.

“I dont know any group in Kenya where you can call in sick and not bring any certificate and not just come to work.”

The CBA limits the national carrier from getting additional pilots to meet the expansion needs.

In the first six months of this year, KQ expanded its network by 17 per cent, flying about 150,000 more people year-on-year.

“We need more pilots; we need more flexibility. I don’t think the shareholders want us to protect one group of people but I think we should create more jobs, hire more people and create stable revenue jobs,” Mikosz said.

The management has been on an on and off stalemate with the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) which constantly pushes for better terms "despite being among the best paid in the continent".The Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) has also been at loggerheads with management on a number of issues including investment decisions, derailing implementation of key programmes.Mikosz said pilots’ salaries account for half the salaries at the airline.“Kenyan crew is paid the same with Emirates. They are well paid. Some of the pilots’ take-home salary is slightly below mine but nobody is talking about that,” he said as he defended claims that he takes home huge packages despite the airline making losses.According to […]

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