KQ pilots strike is ‘economic sabotage’, says Transport CS Murkomen

The government has declared the ongoing pilots’ strike illegal.

Transport Cabinet Secretary, Kipchumba Murkomen, termed the pilots’ strike as sabotage of the economy and unwarranted.

Speaking Saturday morning after touring the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to assess the impact of the strike, Murkomen said the strike was timed to test the new administration and was illegal because of the existence of a court order.

While assuring that the government is willing and ready to dialogue, he said the decision on how to deal with the crisis would be a management issue of KQ.

“The action taken by the pilots, considering the economic challenges and the biting drought, is akin to economic sabotage,” said the CS.

The CS said he had gone through the various terminals and observed that the KQ management was doing everything possible to address the plight of passengers.

“This morning, I visited the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and was saddened to learn that so far, over 15 flights have been canceled and 10,000 passengers stranded. It is estimated that the airline will lose Ksh300 million daily as a result of the strike which is counterproductive if you consider the demands made by the pilots” he added.

Murkomen regretted the move by the pilots which comes at a time the government has injected billions to turn the airline around following a downturn in earnings.

He appealed to the pilots to reconsider their stand and return to the negotiating table.

“For progress to be made on this front, therefore, it is imperative that KALPA calls off the strike and returns to the negotiation table. Already, the Government is thinking of ways to restructure Kenya Airways and make it a self-sustaining company with a more responsive working environment where it will protect the welfare of the pilots and where the pilots will not hold the company hostage” he said.

Meanwhile, Kenya Airways Chief Executive officer Allan Kilavuka has given striking pilots 24 hours to return to work or face disciplinary action.

He said the KQ management spent five hours with all stakeholders on Friday, trying to unlock the stalemate to no avail.

According to Kilavuka, 400 pilots downed their tools since Saturday morning. As a result, 15 planes have been grounded leaving 10,000 passengers stranded and 6,000 tons of cargo affected.

Appealing for calm, the government, and KQ management have apologized to all the passengers and transporters for the crisis.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience to your travel due to the ongoing unlawful strike by our pilots. We will do our best to provide you with an alternative solution at the earliest opportunity which may include rebooking you on other airlines”.

“The Ministry, we will continue to do everything possible to ensure this impasse is resolved as fast as possible” promised Transport CS Murkomen.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) has maintained its strike is fully in force, but is ready to listen to “genuine” negotiations to ensure that both pilots and Kenya Airways come to an agreeable position.


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