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Worry as increasing number of pilots leave airlines for jobs abroad

30 pilots have left Kenya Airways for greener pastures abroad in the last three months alone bringing the total to 105 in one and a half years.

Kenya Airways captains attend a meeting on a pilots strike organised by Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi on April 28, 2016.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) has warned Kenya Airways that they risk losing more pilots to rival airlines if the staff welfare at the national carrier is not improved.

“Last month, we received 10 resignations and they continue to increase. We are just bleeding. The attrition is too high both for pilots and engineers,” Kalpa secretary general Paul Gichinga said in an interview with The Star.

By August this year, KQ has 450 pilots flying its fleet of 30 aircraft down from 525 one and a half years ago.

According to Gichinga, the airline needs about 490 pilots to operate optimally.


Planned strike

In October, the airline's pilots called off a strike after Kalpa announced that negotiations had yielded a compromise on their demands.

The association had demanded a change of management at KQ, saying they no longer had faith with the current management to steer the airline back to its former pride.

The action led to the retirement of former board chairman Dennis Awori who was later replaced by ex-Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph.

KQ also has a shortage of more than 150 cabin crew, Kalpa claimed, which is affecting flight schedules.


Engineers go slow

The airline’s engineers downed their tools on Monday citing poor pay, lack of promotions and unfavourable shift patterns.

The engineers said they had made the complaints for a long time but that changes had not been made.

"The technical production team is the lowest paid locally, leave alone internationally. There is a pay discrepancy that is affecting our morale," they complained in the letter to chairman Michael Joseph.

They added that some of their allowances were struck off and other amounts withdrawn after the national carrier sold some of its planes.


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