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Kenya Airways Pilots Defy Sack Threats To Ground Flights For The Third Day

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Due to the pilots’ union’s defiance of a court order and threats to halt operations for the third day, #Kenya Airways (KQ) is experiencing the worst turbulence it has ever experienced following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 300 tonnes of perishable cargo have rotted at the airport due to the labor conflict, which erupted when the Transport and Labour Ministries were unable to mediate a settlement. Thousands of passengers have also been stranded as a result. By the time we went to publish, the airline still hadn’t dealt with the crisis. The national carrier defaulted on a US loan for Sh102 billion a few days prior, necessitating the government’s rescue effort.

Allan Kilavuka, the chief executive of KQ, urged all pilots who were scheduled to work on Sunday to show up for work or risk being disciplined. The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) argued that until its demands, which include the immediate reinstatement of the staff provident fund, are granted, none of its members will fly a KQ aircraft. The airline was accused by the union of treating the labor issue improperly by reportedly refusing to work with them to resolve the standoff. The union is also seeking the dismissal of the KQ senior management team.

“Kalpa is ready to call off this industrial action to allow Kenya Airways to resume full operations immediately. However, this is totally dependent on Kenya Airways management agreeing to resolve the issues raised by the pilots,” the union said in a statement.

KQ has maintained that its financial situation prevents it from quickly granting the pilots’ compensation demands, and it has threatened to fire those who disobeyed the court order suspending the strike last week. As of Sunday, the airline had to cancel 56 flights as a result of the strike. At Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), more than 12,000 travelers are still stuck, and more than 300 tonnes of perishable goods have been rotting there since Saturday morning. Additionally, KQ has been unable to fly pharmaceuticals.

According to KQ, this strike will cost about Sh300 million each day. This equals Sh2.1 billion in a week. By Sunday, the airline could only manage four flights, the majority of which were flown by pilots who are not Kalpa members. The destinations of the flights were Addis Abeba, Entebbe, and Mombasa. The fourth flight was slated to depart JKIA for Lusaka after sunset. Following objections from stranded passengers who were forced to cancel their flights and book other airlines, a step that comes with high cancellation fees, the strike has also put it in a new reputational crisis.

The Transport Ministry claims that over the past three years, the government has invested more than Sh60 billion to keep the KQ afloat. The ministry has been attempting to mediate an agreement with the pilots to end their strike.

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