Pilots beat hasty retreat on fate of KQ managers

Wednesday February 3 2016

Pilots in the country now want national carrier Kenya Airways saved from possible collapse. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


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Kenya Airways management could be spared the headache of an overhaul demand as the Kenya Airline Pilots Association shifts to a shaky stance on the fate of KQ managers.

The Airline’s board meets Thursday amidst an increasingly softening KALPA whose aviation union counterparts have contradicted the push for management overhaul at KQ.

The pilot’s union Wednesday called off a press conference meant to give an update on KQ’s turnaround in a signal of compromise from government quarters and KQ management.

Wednesday’s cancelled presser came exactly a week after KALPA revised their 7 day ultimatum issued on 20th January to have all the entire Management at KQ sent home.

The umbrella body’s Secretary General Paul Gichinga beat another hasty retreat allegedly to allow the KQ board to meet and deliberate on their demands before taking action.

The 11.00am conference was called off after an hour of delay amidst suspicious circumstances as none of the KALPA members appeared in person.

“After extensive consultations and at the request of key stakeholders, KALPA will await the outcome of Kenya Airways Board meeting, scheduled to take place on Thursday 4th February 2016. We regret any inconveniences caused,” said a statement from Mr Gichinga read by communication agents.

Our email, texts and phone calls to dig deeper into the intrigues surrounding the constant shifts were in vain.

The Union is said to have met a section of KQ board causing the revision of the initial seven day ultimatum.

Lacked the mandate

The Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) had earlier discredited KALPA’s demands saying the pilots lacked the mandate to force a regime change at KQ.

Kawu, which has about 10,000 members- a quarter of whom are KQ employees excluding pilots voiced support of the ongoing restructuring at the airline.

The union’s secretary general Moss Ndiema, said the airline’s pilots should bear part of the burden of KQ’s declining profitability due to their “high pay despite poor productivity.”

“Their frequent withdrawal of goodwill has been cited as a contributory factor to flight cancellations that have forced disgruntled KQ passengers to migrate to other reliable carriers,” Mr Ndiema said in a press conference.

A day before the expiry of KALPA’s first ultimatum, the national carrier denied receiving any notice of the said ultimatum to vacate office.

KALPA may have also bent to pressure from government after the state which has a 29.8 per cent stake in the loss-making airline, held discussions with KQ chairman Ambassador Dennis Awori and Kalpa secretary general Paul Gichinga late last month.

Transport secretary James Macharia called the meeting to try to mediate between the two warring parties in an attempt to forestall a looming strike that could lead to massive flight cancellations or delays.

Thursday’s meeting will draw the lines on how KQ management survives the relaxing grip from the worker’s union which seems to have changed tunes on their huge demands.