NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 13 – The government has directed Kenya Airways to overhaul all its services including their pricing in a bid to be competitive in the market.
This was among the decisions made in the Cabinet meeting presided by President Uhuru Kenyatta where cabinet also approved the “Fly Kenya Policy” which is aimed at ensuring that all Government officials fly Kenya-registered carriers when travelling on official duty and whenever public funds are expended.
The move is intended to revive the loss making airline that is facing significant challenges.
Among the challenges include an impending strike by the members of the Kenya Airlines Pilots Association (KALPA).
The Association on Tuesday issued a seven day strike notice demanding an overhaul of the Kenya Airways (KQ) management.
KALPA Secretary General Captain Paul Gichinga told a media briefing that they want Board Chairman Dennis Awori and CEO Mbuvi Ngunze to resign, arguing that they have no confidence in their ongoing turnaround strategy.
Gichinga says if the two will not quit, the pilots will down their tools on Tuesday next week, starting 5am until a comprehensive solution is found.
On their part KQ says the planned strike by KAPLA is unjustified and uncalled for as it will result in more losses to the airline.
In a press statement, the airline indicated that that the threat is already costing Kenya Airways significant losses as passengers have begun to make cancellations immediately the action was published.
The firm indicated that the association does not forthwith retract its statement; Kenya Airways will have to immediately stop selling tickets on its network, given the costs associated with selling tickets and not carrying these passengers.
The airline explained that in addition, it risked losing critical support of financiers and suppliers that Kenya Airways is in negotiations with.
Meanwhile the government has demanded the immediate withdrawal of the strike notice adding that the government will use all its levels available to take action against those who defy the directive.
A statement from Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia indicate that KALPA did not follow the due process in calling for the strike as it did not engage either KQ nor the shareholders prior to the notice.
This is the second strike notice from the pilots this year. During the last strike, the airline lost revenue of up to Sh200million a day and caused severe inconveniences and monetary losses to passengers.
“The government with other shareholders are fully apprised of the KQ turnaround strategy dubbed operation pride and are confident that the company is on a turnaround and are supportive of the initiatives in this strategy advance results released indicate a 58 per cent improvement in its net profit position as well as a breakeven of operating profit,” Macharia added.
The airline in 2016 reported a net loss of Sh26.2 billion up from Sh25.7 billion in the previous financial year.