Passengers that had been booked flights with Kenya Airways have been left stranded after the airline pilots downed their tools.
Flights taking off and landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) have been facing disruptions beginning Saturday after KQ pilots failed to call off a planned strike, defying a court order.
The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa), whose majority of its membership is from Kenya Airways, announced that they would down their tools because KQ management has turned a deaf ear to their grievances.
“Beginning Saturday, 5th November 2022, from 6.00 am local time, there shall be no Kenya Airways aircraft departing JKIA flown by a Kalpa member,” Kalpa secretary general Murithi Nyaga said in a statement on Friday.
Kenya Airways had sought court orders to stop the industrial action citing the risk of paying hefty fines on cancellation of flights totaling about Sh300 million.
Kalpa issued a 14-day strike notice on October 19, citing four reasons.
“The strike notice has since expired, and we are therefore at liberty to exercise our right to withdraw our labour forthwith as enshrined in Article 41, Chapter 4 of the Kenyan Constitution,” Mr Nyaga said Friday.
KQ froze paying the monthly pension contribution equivalent to 10 percent of the workers’ pay at the peak of Covid-19 pandemic.
It requires about Sh1.3 billion annually for the contributions, with the pilots’ share accounting for about Sh700 million.
KQ says that it cannot continue paying the provident fund and, at the same time, clear outstanding salaries that amount to Sh6.5billion due to its depressed revenues.
“As you know, we continue to pay back the deferred salaries and expect to start paying back the contributions to the provident fund in 2023,” said KQ Chairman Michael Joseph in a statement to workers this week.
Ethiopian airlines and Rwanda air are stepping up to fill the void left by Kenya Airways and the much smaller Rwanda air, is feeling the pressure. Passengers who rebooked their flights on the airline have expressed concerns about massive delays and ad hoc flight changes.