Kenya Airways to spend Sh10.2 million a month on expat pilots

Kenya Airline Pilots Association has accused KQ management of hiring foreigners while ignoring qualified local pilots.

In Summary

•Kenya Airways has commenced the recruitment of 20 expatriates to fly its Boeing 737 aircrafts.

•KALPA has warned of a legal action if KQ management does not stop the recruitment process, even as it fronts local pilots for the jobs.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) plans to go t court if Kenya Airways goes ahead to employ 20 expatriates to fly its Boeing 737 aircrafts.

KALPA accused the airline of hiring foreigners while ignoring qualified local pilots.


“KALPA raises a red flag in the manner at which Kenya Airways management is overlooking Kenyan workers in preference to foreigners," KALPA General Secretary Captain  Murithi Nyagah told a media briefing in Nairobi.

He said there is a worrying trend where foreigners are hired for jobs that can be done by Kenyans.

The association said it beats logic to higher expatriates at a time the airline is struggling with losses.

It is estimated an expatriate pilot will take home $5,000 (about Sh 512,000) in gross salary. House allowance and travel and commuter allowances could push the figure to above$7,000 (Sh 716,802).

On an average gross salary of Sh512,000, KQ, as it is known by its international code, will spend an estimated Sh10.2 million per month on salaries for the 20 pilots.

A local Boeing pilot earns an average Sh483,000 while one flying an Embraer takes home about Sh407,000 as gross salary.

“It is very expensive to bring expatriates because they come as a package,” Nyagah said.

He said most of those targeted are based in Europe or America so the terms and conditions and pay is way higher that offered  local pilots.

Kenya Airways is said to be seeking a waiver from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to have the expatriates allowed to fly without familiarising themselves with the local aviation laws and standards and issue KALPA said raises safety concerns


"That is a very unsafe thing for them to do. We cannot put out First Officers  in a flight deck with captains who do not understand the aviation regulations in this country," KALPA assistant General Secretary Dzochera Warrakah said.

The association had given Kenya Airways management a go-ahead to higher pilots for its larger Embraer fleet  which currently has a shortage of 20 pilots. The Boeing 737 aircrafts are currently short of 13 captains.

Overall, KQ requires 600 pilots to operate its 36 aircrafts optimally to its more than 55 destinations but currently only operates with 430 pilots.

KQ management yesterday did not respond to any of the issues raised by KALPA  

KALPA has cited  the move to higher foreigners on Boeing aircrafts as a move to lock out local pilots from climbing the aviation ranks.

Currently, KQ has nine Boeing 787 Dreamliner , 10-Boeing 737 aircrafts and 17 Embraers. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the senior-most fleet while the Embraer is the junior-most.

The Embraer serves as the entry fleet for employment of pilots, both Captains and First Officers who then graduate to fly the Boeing 737 and subsequently to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. 

KQ management has been pushing for a revision of the current CBA in the wake of an aggressive route expansion.

“It is not a secret we have a rigid CBA on workers as we would need some flexibility on expansion,”chairman Michael Joseph said recently.

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star