NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 12 – Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) has condemned the hiring of foreign pilots by Kenya Airways, a move the association said disenfranchised local pilots who remain unemployed.
In a statement released on Tuesday, KALPA Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer Murithi Nyagah said KQ had breached existing mutual agreements, where the local pilots were to be given priority on jobs.
“We have noted with concern a worrying trend in the airline where foreigners are being hired for jobs that can be done by Kenyans qualified for the same,” reads the statement.
“Of concern is the recent move by KQ to commence recruitment of 20 foreign pilots directly to the Boeing 737, a move that is in clear breach of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between KQ and KALPA,” he added.
The pilots have further raised concerns about the cancellation of flights due to the imbalance of pilots assigned to different aircraft.
“It is obvious and evident to all that the Embraer fleet is most affected by the pilot shortage. On a weekly basis, an average minimum of 30 flights are canceled on the Embraer due to inability to get Pilots on these flights,” reads the statement.
The pilots added that they received reports that KQ management intends to forego some key licensing, interview and training processes which Kenyan pilots are subject to, to speed up the recruitment of foreign pilots.
KALPA’s statement comes after KQ announced it was recruiting 40 local pilots in 2019 as part of efforts to fill its personnel shortage which costs the airline Sh5 billion annually.
The Kenya Association of Travel Agents had indicated the recruited pilots will later take up the vacancies being currently filled by contract pilots.
In September, outgoing Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz, in a memo to staff, announced the recruitment of 20 contract pilots for its Boeing 737 fleet, saying they would help the airline plan for pilots’ annual leave.
“Our aim is clearly not to do away with Kenyan pilots as the contract pilots will only be in the service of the airline for two years after which they will be replaced by Kenyan pilots,” said the airline in a statement.
The carrier said the average KQ pilot has over 100 days of accumulated leave with the current pilot numbers insufficient to support Kenya Airways’ route network.