KQ flight cancellations: Pilots deny role as bosses threaten tough measures

KQ flight cancellations: Pilots deny role as bosses threaten tough measures

Kenya Airways pilots have dismissed claims that they are the largest contributors to the airline’s woes.

This, even as it emerged that they had been threatened with route reorganization to save face over growing delays and cancellations.

Speaking to journalists in Nairobi on Tuesday morning, the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) countered the claims saying they have been forced to make sacrifices.

“Just to keep this airline afloat, we sacrifice family time and important social events to safely transport you as our guests. In many instances, while we leave our families to go flying, it is rather peculiar that in turn we ensure that you are safely connected to your loved ones,” said KALPA’s Secretary General Capt. Murithi Nyagah.

Over the past months outgoing Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz has claimed that pilots lodge fictitious sick calls which has made the airline cancel tens of flights and delay many more.

In a memo leaked to journalists (after KALPA’s media briefing) and addressed the pilots association, KQ further says it had cancelled 198 flights between January and August this year, much to the inconvenience of guests.

KALPA in its defence says the situation had been abetted by a shortage of pilots. In the memo however, the airline says KAPLA has allegedly stood in the way of fresh crew requirements by frustrating KQ’s quest to substantively fill vacant crew roles.

Subsequently, the airline estimates the losses incurred due to impact of crew shortages at annual figure of Ksh.5.2 billion ($50 million).

“As a result of the above losses, in the next few weeks we shall be reducing the network to avoid further erosion of the brand due to the disruption. This means the market share we have fought hard to win shall be eroded and winning this back will be a much harder task due to diminished customer confidence,” read part of the memo undersigned by Kenya Airways Director of Operations Capt. Paul Njoroge.

Currently, Kenya Airways has 435 pilots with the optimum number differing depending on who you ask between the management and the pilots.

Mikosz further insisted that the pilots, despite only being 13 per cent of the airline’s workforce, gobbled up close to 50 per cent of the payroll.

“Personally I would take a pay cut if you prove to me that the problem is pilots pay. We don’t think this is the problem,’’ said KALPA’s Chairman Capt. Njoroge Murimi.

The blame game pitting the pilots against management has opened the lid into the frosty relations between the two factions.