KQ to stop ticket sales over pilots strike threat

By Stanley Wabomba

National carrier, Kenya Airways has threatened to immediately halt the sale of air tickets if pilots do not retract a seven-day strike notice issued two days ago.

Kenya Airways says the strike notice has occasioned some passengers to start cancelling flights.

The airline further cites a similar strike by pilots who are members of the Kenya Airline Pilot Association-KALPA in April this year that cost KQ 200 million shillings daily.

Two days ago, the pilots who are members of the Kenya Airline Pilot Association-KALPA issued a seven day strike notice demanding the resignation of among others the airline’s Chief Executive Officer Mbuvi Ngunze and Chairman Ambassador Dennis Awori.

The pilots called for recruitment of other people to oversee the national carrier’s journey back to profitability noting that Mbuvi and Awori were an impediment to KQ’s recovery.

The expectation was that Kenya Airways would engage the pilots to try to avert the industrial action. However, that is not the case.

The national carrier has thrown spanners into the works by indicating that it plans to halt operations immediately if the pilots do not retract their strike notice.

While terming the strike notice unjustified and uncalled for, the airline in a statement says: “If KALPA does not forthwith retract its statement, Kenya Airways will have to immediately stop selling tickets on its network, given the costs associated with selling tickets and not carrying these passengers.”

The airline says the strike notice is already hurting its operations with some passengers making booking cancellations.

The airline says the threatened industrial action by pilots would hurt the negotiations and support that Kenya Airways has with suppliers and financiers.

KQ says: “The last industrial action by KALPA in April 2016 cost Kenya Airways Kshs 200 million (US$2 million) in revenues and cost in a single day, which KALPA did not pay for.”

The airline says fortunes have changed for the better during the last six months with the number of passengers increasing by 89,000 to 2.23 million while the loss has narrowed from 12 billion shillings to 5 billion shillings.

However, pilots dismissed this noting that Kenya Airways had sunk deeper into financial problems that was being covered through the sale of assets such as aircrafts, land and a landing slot.

With the threats and counter threats being flown around literally, it now remains to be seen between the Kenya Airways and the pilots who will blink first.


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