Kenya Airways pilots urge President to save national carrier
By Eric Ombok
INTERNATIONAL - Kenya Airways Plc’s decision to freeze expansion plans will hurt the East African nation’s economy and its relevance as a regional aviation hub, according to a pilot’s lobby.
A plan to fire staff will affect more than 4,000 families who depend on the national carrier directly and about 620,000 others who rely on the aviation industry, the Kenya Airline Pilots Association said in a letter addressed to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The carrier should instead continue expanding and fill a gap created after rivals Air Mauritius and South African Airways were placed under administration, according to the letter published in the Daily Nation newspaper.
“Expanding Kenya Airways will give our country the opportunity to capitalize on the maturity of her hospitality industry and fully utilize her substantive investment in airport infrastructure,” the group said.
Kenya Airways this week began firing contract workers hired at the start of 2020 to support its prior expansion plans. Earlier in July the pilots offered to go on unpaid leave if that would help secure jobs and cushion the airline from effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The pilots also want more aviation experts on the board and management of Kenya Airways, and for the company to improve its services to an under-served cargo market, according to the letter.
Shares of Kenya Airways, which was loss-making even before the pandemic struck, have not been trading since July 3 ahead of the airline’s planned restructuring and nationalization.