A fresh labor dispute at embattled Kenya Airways (KQ) resulted in canceled flights through at least December 3 following the airline’s dismissal of more than 140 striking aircraft engineers and technicians. KQ’s technical department employs more than 600 working at various levels; about 15 percent of them went on a strike starting November 28 to demonstrate for a salary increase of as high as 250 percent while the East African carrier struggles to implement a turnaround strategy. “They want their pay to match those of their counterparts in Middle East countries,” a senior executive of KQ told AIN.
The strike followed a “go-slow” industrial action at the airline’s hub in Nairobi Jumo Kenyatta International Airport. After repeated warnings, KQ CEO Sebastian Mikosz fired the 140 engineers and technicians.
In a letter sent to AIN, Kenya Airways said that the management of the airline consistently communicated in good faith the progress of addressing issues raised by the technical department. “The illegal strike at Kenya Airways’ hangar was in bad faith and unacceptable,” the airline said.
While recording spiraling losses in the past several years, KQ lost more than 80 technicians and dozens of cockpit crewmembers to high-paying Middle East carriers.
KQ, which promotes its self as the pride of Africa, made a change of management and board early this year in an effort to speed its recovery plan. Last June the new board hired Mikosz, who as CEO of Lot Polish Airlines successfully implemented a turnaround strategy at that airline.
Owned by the Kenyan government, Air France KLM and other shareholders, Kenya Airways recently restructured $2 billion of debt as part the rescue plan. “The management will not entertain actions that impede the recovery process of the company,” Mikosz said in an internal memo dispatched to all the staff of the airline.