Kenya Airways has commenced the hiring of 20 contract pilots for its Boeing 737. The airline blames the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA)’s collective bargaining agreement for flight delays. KQ intends to later employ second officers as well as provide promotions to boost its pilot roster stability.
A letter from KQ’s Director of Operations airs the dysfunctional relationship between the airline and the union. Kenya Airways attributes the necessity to hire new captains to shortfalls on KALPA’s hiring, training and career progression of pilots.
“To facilitate route expansion and leave coverage, the company hereby advises you that it has commenced the recruitment of twenty contract captains on the B737 in compliance with the CBA provisions. The contracts will be for two years, and a summary of the selection process report shall be availed to KALPA.” read the letter.
Additionally, KQ blames the association for shutting down multiple proposals to create a new hiring approach. In 2018, KQ suggested that Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) should hire pilots from Jambojet’s retired B737 fleet to no avail.
The result of KALPA’s unwillingness to negotiate or offer counter solutions is part of forces behind KQ descent. At the same time, the airline associates KALPA’s deaf ear to mounting losses and lost customer goodwill.
So far, Kenya Airways has canceled as many as 198 flights due to crew shortages. Moreover, the airline estimates a loss of up to Ksh. 5.1 billion annually resulting from crew shortages. That is beside the lost goodwill as a result of flight cancellations and cargo delays.
A massive shortage of pilots
Africa’s third-largest airline boasts only 435 pilots against a requirement of 497 pilots as per the airline’s fleet. Worse still, 44 out of the current 435 are in training for promotion in line with KALPA’s promotion policy. As a result, the total pilot deficit stands at 106 pilots. Flight delays from crew shortages, are costing KQ its reputation and money.