Kalpa calls off planned strike ahead of KQ strategy update

Passengers alight from a KQ plane at the Moi International Airport Mombasa /ELKANA JACOB
Passengers alight from a KQ plane at the Moi International Airport Mombasa /ELKANA JACOB

The Kenya Airlines Pilot Association yesterday called off planned industrial action, citing board changes. The strike was deferred two weeks ago ahead of Kenya Airway’s strategy briefing this afternoon.

Kalpa secretary general Paul Gichinga withdrew the strike notice saying the union is pleased with progress made on specific issues raised by the pilots, and in particular the overhaul of the struggling airline’s top leadership.

“The executive council has been monitoring the developments at Kenya Airways. Based on the progress on specific issues raised by Kalpa, we are confident that these developments will positively impact on the airline’s recovery efforts,” he said yesterday in a statement.

Kalpa had issued a seven-day strike notice on October 11, demanding an overhaul of the Kenya Airways management team. However, the notice was deferred on October 17 to give KQ time to address the issue.

Those targeted were KQ’s chief executive Mbuvi Ngunze, chairman Dennis Awori, director of safety, security and quality Alex Avedi, human resource director Alban Mwenda, and flight operations director Captain Paul Mwangi.

Awori resigned. His woes began early in June when the airlines pilots demanded his sacking over the failure to implement a return to work formula.

Former Safaricom chief executive Michael Joseph joined the board on September 29 during KQ’s annual general meeting and was on Wednesday last week elected chair of the loss-making national carrier.

It is expected that Joseph’s experience will help restore the troubled airline’s pride. This is due to his legacy of taking Safaricom from a subscriber base of 18,000 to 17 million in a period of just 10 years.

Joseph will hold his maiden press briefing today, along with Ngunze, to discuss the future of the airline.

The airline last week reported a 60.13 per cent drop in after tax loss for the half-year period ended September 30 to Sh4.78 billion from Sh11.95 billion posted in the same period last year.

Ngunze said the improvement was underpinned by lower operating costs made possible by fleet rationalisation in line with the recovery strategy ‘Operation Pride’ launched a year ago.

Half-year financial statements show direct operating costs reduced by 5.8 per cent to Sh32.75 billion from Sh34.79 billion last year.

Fleet ownership costs reduced by 35 per cent to Sh8.49 billion from Sh13.14 billion. KQ recorded a 4.2 per cent increase in passengers numbers to 2.2 million.