The Kenya Airline Pilots Association claims Kenya Airways plans to recruit 20 expatriate pilots to crew the Boeing 737.
The pilots further allege that the Kenya Airways Management is deliberately sidelining Kenyan pilots in the hiring process in favour of expatriates who are high maintenance for the struggling carrier.
The pilots say this is in breach of a deal they signed with Kenya Airways that provides for the hiring of expatriates only if there is a shortage of qualified local pilots, which is now not the case.
Last month, a section of pilots filed a trade dispute with the Labor Ministry, seeking arbitration over the move by Kenya Airways to employ foreign pilots on the contract.
Kenya Airways has stuck to its guns maintaining that hiring of pilots on a two-year contract would enable it to increase its pilot talent pool through recruitment of junior pilots as well as enhance the capacity of the existing personnel to operate its Boeing 737 fleet, a move that the Kenya Airline Pilots Association, objects.
“We have numerous suitable Kenyan Captains on the Embraer fleet ready for promotion to the senior Boeing 737 fleet. Kenya Airways attempt to hire foreigners on the Boeing 737 in preference to our Kenyan colleagues,” said KALPA General Secretary.
“All efforts must be made to address the unemployment of hundreds of suitable Kenyan Pilots, who can assist in the growth of Kenya Airways,” he added.
The association also says pilots hired on entry-level should crew the Embraer and not Boeing 737 as per the laid-out procedure.
Currently, Kenya Airways operates a flight schedule that requires 600 pilots against a capacity of 430 creating a deficit that has resulted in flight delays or cancellations.