Kenya Airways pilots Sunday afternoon agreed to resume work ending a go-slow that caused flight delays and cancellations over the weekend.
A statement from the national carrier said that the Kenya Airlines Pilots Association (Kalpa) had reached an agreement with management.
“With the goodwill reinstated by Kalpa, we are now working expeditiously to ensure that normal services resume and expect all scheduled flights today,” said Mr Titus Naikuni, the Kenya Airways CEO, in a statement.
KQ said the standoff had been caused by a misinterpretation of the rules on working procedures.
“The many internal issues we had raised were resolved over the weekend and we have resumed normal operations,” said Kalpa vice-chairman Capt Paul Njoroge. Sources said that 10 flights were either cancelled or delayed due to the go-slow. “Other than Entebbe and Bangkok, I do not know of other flights that were cancelled,” said Mr Chris Karanja, KQ’s spokesman in a telephone interview Sunday.
“Some flights could be delayed by 10 hours some by an hour, but we should resume normal operations by tonight.” Airlines the world over have been facing deteriorating labour relations as they struggle to cut costs in the face of a recession.
Over the past two years, KQ has faced a number of labour unrests involving engineers, cabin crews, and ground workers. KQ is locked in a legal battle with its workers’ union after the carrier shed 578 jobs last month in a bid to cut its wage bill that has doubled from Sh6 billion in 2007 to Sh13.4 billion.
The battle has sucked in Parliament, which has launched a probe on whether KQ followed the right channels in cutting the jobs.
In July, the pilots’ association warned that it would call for a strike over the national carrier’s plan to hire expatriate pilots to support its expansion drive. Kalpa officials said that the reason the airline was not keen on hiring local pilots was the duty period stipulated in the Collective Bargain Agreement that restricts their members to work for 12 hours a day.
Expatriates and non-members are allowed 15 hours, according to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. KQ officials said that there was lack of captains, pilots who have flown for a minimum of 4,000 hours in specific planes, prompting the firm to widen its search beyond Kenya.