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Kenya Airways to Sack Senior Pilots As Coronavirus Impacts Continue to Show

A Kenya Airways 787-8. The airline has decided to lay off half of its pilots. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Kenya Airways, Kenya’s flag carrier, is moving to slash half of its pilot workforce. The move is in line with cost saving measures deemed necessary due to the toll the COVID-19 crisis that has taken, Business Daily reports.

Kenya Airways is looking to cut up to 207 of its 414 pilot jobs, which account for almost half of the carrier’s payroll costs over the next three years with the job cuts based on ‘revenue projections’.

“Based on our three-year projection, we will require 50 percent to 60 percent of pilots to efficiently support the reduced operations. Our target is to reduce the company’s overall total fixed costs, not just staff costs, by about 50 percent in response to our revenue projections,” said the Kenya Airways Group CEO Allan Kilavuka.

“We are reducing our network, our assets, and our people. The reduction will not be like for like, meaning that the shrinkage will not be uniform across the three areas,” Kilavuka added.

Kenya Airways has already laid off some 650 employees, mostly trainee pilots and cabin crew, technicians and other newly-hired staff on probation.

The most recent move has caused tensions with the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA), which opposes the airline’s plan to shed jobs. But Kenya Airways says this is the right move to preserve its viability

“We need to make the right decisions today for the sustainability of the business tomorrow, hence the decision to shrink now in order to grow in future and emerge on the other side of the crisis a leaner, more efficient airline,” Kilavuka said.

Kenya Airways’ 787 Dreamliner arrives at JFK (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Tom Pallini)

Coronavirus’ Effect Across Africa

International Air Transport Association (IATA), in its latest estimates on the Impacts of COVID-19 crisis in the African region, forecasted Africa will see 3.5 million aviation-related job losses, an increase from earlier estimates.

“The economic consequences resulting from a disconnected continent are severe. Millions of jobs and livelihoods are at risk in family-run enterprises and large corporations along the entire travel and tourism value chain,” said Muhammad Al Bakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.

The aviation industry’s governing body has long been advocating for more government intervention in the region to ensure a safer restart of aviation, a move they argue will minimize job losses and improve economies across the continent.

“We urge African governments and the development institutions who have committed funding to provide it urgently in a structure that does not weaken already stressed airline balance sheets, before it is too late,” said Albakri.

Kenya Airways restarted international travel on Aug. 1 and currently serves 4 domestic routes and 23 international destinations.

The airline announced earlier it will resume its Guangzhou route via Bangkok starting Oct. 25 in a ‘normal daily service’ using its Boeing 787-8.

Victor Shalton


  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

    View all posts

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