Kenya Airways says pilots on strike despite deal to defer action

by Reuters & CNBC Africa 0

Kenya Airways said on Thursday it was experiencing unspecified disruption due to what it said was a strike by its pilots despite an agreement reached a day earlier to defer the strike notice until June 1.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (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 had also obtained a court order on Wednesday barring the planned strike. The airline and KALPA then issued a statement, saying the union had agreed to defer its strike.


“We have had some disruptions this morning as a result of the pilots’ strike announced on Tuesday and in spite of our agreement yesterday,” Kenya Airways said on its Twitter feed.

At midday Kenyan time when the strike was supposed to start, dozens of Kenya Airways pilots were in a meeting with Transport Minister James Macharia and Dennis Awori, chairman of the board of the carrier, a Reuters reporter covering the meeting said.

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 airline has been selling assets, including planes, and plans to lay off 600 people as it tries to stay in operation after three and a half years of financial losses. The Kenya Pilots Association members have voted to continue with the strike defying a court order that stopped them from carrying out the strike, which has since disrupted operations since Thursday morning.

KQ is now trading at 4 Kenyan Shillings

“I think Kenya Airways really needs to come up with a solution, it’s moved from public confidence to internal confidence – when pilots are saying they cannot trust you anymore,” Faith Mwangi, Investment Analyst at Standard Investment Bank told CNBC Africa.

She adds: “They need to first solve what is going on, on the inside because if they are saying they don’t have confidence in the currency, then they need to come to a conclusion as to what they think should be done going forward – other than opting for a strike because they think that is a bit too radical at the moment.”

Mwangi also thinks KAPLA have not given the airline enough time to find a way forward.

KAPLA earlier this week gave a vote of no confidence against Kenya Airways Chief Executive Mbuvi Ngunze.

READ MORE: Kenya Airways pilots’ strike deferred

“Immediately after that then they go on strike ignoring a court – I think they didn’t give it enough time.”

“I think with the strategy that they are taking on right now, I don’t think recovery will be seen this year, maybe once they start delivering positive numbers.”