Kenya Airways Says It May Not Pay Salaries If Pilots’ Strike Persists

Nairobi — Kenya Airways(KQ) may not be able to meet its salary obligations this month if the ongoing pilots strike persists.

KQ CEO Allan Kilavuka in a passionate plea has called on the Pilots to let common sense prevail and call off their strike as the paralysis at the airways is a doubled aged sword affecting both the airline and the pilots.

Kilavuka said the striking workers may be forced to go without salary as the company is bleeding Sh300million daily from the strike

“All I know is that pilots are KQ employees before they are members of the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA). We are losing Sh300million every day, if this continues we may not be able to pay salaries this month,” said Kilavuka

As part of negotiations to end the strike, the KQ boss has also demanded that KALPA ensures that its staffers are back to work arguing that the ongoing industrial action is illegal and in contravention of a court order.

The airline is also demanding that the Union limits its negotiation to the Collecting Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed between them .

The government through Cabinet Secretary for Transport Kipchumba Murkomen has threatened to take action against the pilots.

“Considering the defiance of KALPA and their total disregard for the existing court order – which is at the heart of the rule of law – the Ministry of Labour now has to activate the procedures governing industrial relations. I urge the pilots to be mindful of the consequences of defying a court order and to urgently return to work because impunity cannot be an option.” read in part a statement from Murkomen.

Murkomen has blamed the woes bedeviling the airline on the ambitious project Mawingu that aimed to position Nairobi as Africa’s travel hub but instead left KQ cash strapped and debt stricken.

In a strongly worded statement the CS has said the Kenya Kwanza administration will not adapt cosmetic solutions to the perennial problems KQ has been facing but will instead find lasting solutions to resuscitate it with their eyes set on enlisting it at The Nairobi Securities Exchange(NSE).

“Instead of sweeping the challenges which have been facing Kenya Airways for many years under the carpet, we are ready to tackle these challenges head-on. This administration has been working on a plan to turn around Kenya Airways, a plan that is contingent on the capitalisation of the airline and nurturing it back as a listed company at the NSE,” added Murkomen.

The government has also brushed off any hope of bailing out the carrier, arguing the move is financially unsound given the current state of Kenya’s economy and contrary to the wishes of most Kenyans.

“The people of Kenya are neither happy nor willing to continue subsidizing Kenya Airways, and we have heard their voice loud and clear. As for now, I urge the pilots to be part of the solution by working with us to resolve these issues,” the CS said.

A spot check at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA ) revealed that most passengers were stranded after their flights were either cancelled or rescheduled.

Kenya Airways was founded in 1977 following the demise of East African Airways and flies more than four million passengers to 42 destinations annually.

It has been operating in large part thanks to state bailouts following years of losses.

The national carrier reported a Sh9.86 billion loss for the six months ending June 2022, a 14.4 percent improvement from the Sh11.5 billion loss the national carrier reported during a similar period last year.

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