The sessions come as the committee expressed disappointment at responses it got from the KQ management over the airline’s woes.
During a session with the company’s top management led by board Chairman Evans Mwaniki and CEO Mbuvi Ngunze, the committee’s chairman Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o said they had been briefed about affairs at the airline but were yet to get satisfactory responses.
“It is quite clear that there is a problem. Once your hear pilots have withdrawn support for the airline, it is a problem; once you see there is not proper service when you are flying, it’s a problem and we want to find out. They have given us responses but we are not satisfied,” stated Nyong’o.
He said the management had attributed the cancellation of flights to developments and repairs that have been ongoing at JKIA runways which had cut their hours of operation from 24 to 18 hours.
Nyong’o added that the committee was concerned about the company’s retrenchment and employment policy and how it related to ‘Project Mawingu’ which the airline started around 2012 to increase its fleet and which led to the employment 600 foreign nationals.
“We would like to know the economics of that and whether it has helped the company become more efficient and profitable as we would like it to be,” said Nyong’o.
The meeting which journalists were locked out of at the request of the airline’s management was keen on finding the root cause of the poor performance by the airline which saw it make a Sh10.5 billion net loss in the half year ended September 2014 resulting in Treasury issuing a Sh4.2 billion bailout in May this year to shield the company from the turbulent times.
“We hoped we could get more information about the rather high cost of flights in KQ which is pushing it out of competition with other airlines,” added Nyong’o.
He said the committee was also concerned about whether the retrenchment was in accordance with the law specifically on the rights of workers as already some pilots who were recently sent home have moved to court to sue the carrier.
Senators had also sought to find out what steps the company was taking to sell itself and tap the African market where it is being overshadowed by other international companies yet it had the comparative advantage.
READ: Senate committee commences probe into Kenya Airways
Ngunze however defended the airline staff from reports of poor customer relations saying most of the 4,000 employees perform their duties diligently and the specific cases were being addressed.
“I am proud of the 4,000-plus staff that we have in Kenya Airways. There are out of 520 pilots that we have a lot who give their goodwill on normal basis… I also have staff who work flat out – this we will share with you,” said Ngunze.
Senators who attended the meeting included James Orengo (Siaya), Omar Hassan (Mombasa), Daniel Karaba (Kirinyaga), Agnes Zani (Nominated), Peter Mositet (Kajiado) and Mutahi Kagwe (Nyeri).