Turbulence in Kenya Airways after 100 pilots take off to rival airlines

The unequal and unhealthy balance has also left the airline at the mercy of pilots who have gone on industrial strikes severally in the past.

Kenya Airways (KQ) lost a record 55 pilots last year alone bringing the total number of pilots who have exited the struggling airline in two years.

“During the period under review, we witnessed the highest number of pilot exit in the last five years of 55 and a cumulative exit of 89 for the last two years to close at 434 pilots against a requirement of 444.

"A total of 32 Captains and 19 First Officers checked out across the fleets,” reads part of  KQ latest annual report.

The national carrier had 434 pilots on its books at the end of March this year, 10 below the required number.

As a result, KQ is operating below the optimum number of pilots needed for smooth flight operations.

This risk disrupting the airline flights when pilots go off duty, given that only certain number of pilots are certified to fly only certain models of aircraft.

The unequal and unhealthy balance has also left the airline at the mercy of pilots who have gone on industrial strikes severally in the past effectively grounding the airline.

The airline has been involved in protracted labour disputes with its pilots in the past two years over better pay and management changes in the airline.

Wealthy Middle East carriers have also complicated matters for Kenya Airways by poaching some of its best talents by offering higher wages.

“The company plans to narrow the gap in pilot’s strength by recruiting qualified direct entry pilots from the Kenyan market.”

Mid this year, KQ hired Polish national Sebastian Mikosz, who replaced Mbuvi Ngunze as CEO and MD hoping he turn around its fortunes.

The airline says it is also reviewing the salaries of the technical staff under a new collective bargaining scheme kicks in from April next year in a bid to halt the exodus.

“As a preventive measure the airline has put in place a team to investigate the root causes and solutions….some of the main efforts the operations department put in place, which have started bearing fruit during the last quarter of the period under review include review of salaries for the technical staff to stem attrition.”

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