Nairobi – Kenya Airways’ pilots called off their strike late Thursday night following a day-long crisis meeting with the Transport cabinet secretary James Macharia and KQ chairman Dennis Awori after which it was announced the airline’s human resource director had exited the company.
The pilots, under their umbrella body the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa), called off their industrial action at 8 pm Thursday, bringing to an end a day of heavy revenue losses for KQ occasioned by cancellations of over 20 flights.
Kalpa agreed to call off the strike after it was announced that Alban Mwendar, the airline’s group HR director since August 2011, would leave the company.
“Kalpa would like to notify all stakeholders of Kenya Airways and Kenyans at large, that it has called off the pilots’ strike,” Captain Paul Gichinga, the association’s secretary general, said in a statement.
“We wish to assure the public that from tomorrow (Friday) until the end of the deliberations with Kenya Airways management on June 1, Kalpa will crew all flights and extend goodwill to ensure that services operate optimally.”
Following this announcement, KQ said its flight schedule would return to normalcy beginning 6am Friday but advised its passengers to confirm their flights prior to departing for the airport.
“We are currently in the schedule re-planning phase after our pilots withdrew their industrial action that paralyzed operations at our hub in Nairobi,” the airline said in a statement.
“We will continue to give you regular updates via our social media pages. We wish to thank our guests for their patience and understanding and assure that we are committed to serving you and restoring your confidence in our airline.”
KQ’s operations at its Jomo Kenyatta International Airport hub were Thursday thrown into disarray after the unionized pilots went on strike despite a deal with management to suspend industrial action.
The Employment and Labour Relations Court had also issued restraining orders to the pilots from calling a strike, orders which the Kalpa, which represents nearly 500 pilots, ignored.
During the day, KQ was forced to cancel flights to over 20 destinations, including Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Lusaka, Zanzibar, Johannesburg, Yaoundé, Jeddah, Entebbe, Addis Ababa and Kinshasa.
Flights to cities such as Lagos, Douala, Kinshasa, Kigali, Amsterdam and Abidjan also suffered lengthy delays, which cost the airline millions of shillings in revenue.
At 7 pm, the airline issued a statement indicating that around 10 night flights had also been cancelled, except for a flight departing Nairobi destined for Mombasa and another flying in the opposite direction.
While some aircraft sat on the tarmac, the pilots’ union representatives were holed up in a crisis meeting with CS Macharia and Ambassador Awori well into the night.