NAIROBI, April 27 (Reuters) – Kenya Airways secured a court order on Wednesday stopping a strike due to start on Thursday by pilots calling for the airline’s chief executive to quit.
The airline and the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) then issued a joint statement, following a meeting with a government sub-committee, saying the pilots union had agreed to defer its strike notice until June 1.
KALPA issued a two-day notice to the carrier on Tuesday saying its members would stop flying planes until Kenya Airways Chief Executive Mbuvi Ngunze resigned over what it called “questionable” turnaround measures.
Kenya Airways, which is 26.7 percent owned by Air France-KLM , is one of the largest carriers in Africa, ferrying 10,000 passengers a day with a fleet of Boeing and Embraer jets.
But the carrier has been selling assets, including planes, and plans to lay off 600 people as it tries keep flying after three and a half year of financial losses.
In a ruling earlier on Wednesday, the employment and labour relations court in Nairobi blocked KALPA from “calling, participating or engaging in any form of industrial action including strikes” and set a hearing for the dispute on May 9.
The joint KALPA and Kenya Airways statement said they had agreed to hold consultations on issues they did not specify, with the aim of completing them by June 1.
Captain Paul Gichinga, Secretary General, Kenya Airlines Pilots Association speaking to CNBC Africa on Tuesday highlighted the following concerns with the airline:
“There have been various narratives around the airline failing to meet its own revenue targets over the past five years, in the financial year ending 31 March 2015 KQ missed its own revenue target by a staggering 50 billion KS,
“KALPA has every reason to believe that management’s incompetence and vested interest may well be the main reason behind this elusive revenue – it is worth noting that as we speak, these questionable agreements are still in force, KQ continues to haemorrhage while select individuals bask in the light of tainted.
“As you may well be aware, Kenya Air announced on 31 March 2016 that it would embark on a staff rationalisation exercise that would see 600 employees declared redundant on 30 April 2016.”
Gichinga says that this is history repeating itself in that in 2012 similar restructuring was conducted by the same management team but this did not change the airline’s trajectory.
“Problems can’t be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”
Reuters Africa however reports that Kenya Airways today said it has not received a formal strike notice from the pilots’ association.rved