Kenya Airways accuses pilots of sabotage

KQ management has blamed the Kenya Airline Pilots Association for trying to sabotage the carriers’ operations after they differed on CBA and hiring of pilots.

In Summary

•Pilots last week accused KQ of breach the aviation industry laws that guide airlines on aircraft maintenance.

•Kenya Airways Director of Operations (Captain) Paul Njoroge says all KQ manuals are in compliance with KCAA regulations.

Kenya Airways is citing a fall-out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) talks and its adoption of contract hiring as the reason for the latest clash with its pilots.

The management has said because of this,  the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA), is out to sabotage the carriers’ operations.

Last week, KALPA accused the airline  of breaching aviation industry laws that guide airlines on aircraft maintenance.


According to the association, pilots have been left to conduct routine tasks meant for engineers, under the “Crew Concept”, which has not been approved by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

KALPA said its members will no longer conduct any tasks meant for the technical crew.

“The operation involves defects being rectified by maintenance, after which the aircraft is still released without the flight certification release sign off by the concerned engineer,” said KALPA General Secretary Murithi Nyagah.

A fortnight ago, the association pulled out of CBA talks and  filed a trade dispute at the Labour Ministry, citing among others, shortchanging by the airline in the hiring of additional pilots.

While KALPA wanted KQ to hire pilots for its wider but smaller Embraer planes, management opted to hire expatriate pilots on contract for its Boeing 787 aircrafts.

“It is worth noting that prior to this new move, there was no official communication regarding hiring contract pilots on the Boeing 737,” Nyaga said.

Kenya Airways Director of Operations Paul Njoroge yesterday said all KQ manuals are in compliance with KCAA regulations.


“There is no procedure in our manual in regards to crew concept that is in contravention  of the KCAA regulations," he said.

He said KALPA's action is not related to compliance to KCAA regulations but an act of sabotage due to other underlying issues related to the CBA talks and the decision to hire contract pilots.

The two parties were summoned by KCAA last week. The authority’s director general Gilbert Kibe declined to comment on the meeting's outcome.

The Star  established it was rescheduled to safeguard KQ from international queries on its security levels.

“I will not discuss that,” Kibe told the Star.

Njoroge on the other hand said: “The manuals had been approved. However KCAA felt we required more stakeholder engagement before continuing with the procedures.”

All KQ manuals are approved by KCAA on an annual basis. The carrier had its Air Operators Certificate renewed at the end of October after inspection by KCAA , a time when the crew concept was ongoing. 

Pilots have been operating within the crew concept for nearly two years.

“All our operations will continue to run normally. Kenya Airways continues to operate with safety and in compliance with all KCAA regulations,” Njoroge said.

KALPA is expected to hold a press briefing today to give its position on the hiring of expatriates and its members working environment.

Pilots and engineers' shortage has been blamed for numerous delays and cancellations by KQ, which delayed 40% of its flights in the first seven months of 2019.