Kenya Airways has commenced its staff rationalisation exercise with 80 staff set to be affected in the first phase of a redundancy plan that will see 600 employees retrenched or moved.
KQ, as the national carrier is known by its international code, is laying off the employees as part of cost-cutting measures it is implementing to get back to profitability.
The national carrier was to commence the retrenchment in May. A delay in receiving Sh10 billion from African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to cater for the exercise coupled with negotiations with employees saw it delayed until now.
“We issued a notice to right size through staff redundancies and redeployment on March 31 as required by law and an update was issued to staff on May 4 following intense consultations with all parties involved,” Kenya Airways said in a statement.
“During this period we have stress-tested the accuracy of our right-sizing estimates in order to ensure that we have identified all possible ways to retain staff as well as securing the airlines long term operational efficiency.”
The national carrier in March announced that it intends to declare about 15 per cent of its staff complement redundant in a downsizing move that it said would reduce its payroll by about Sh2 billion annually.
KQ’s workforce stood at 3,973 as at March last year and their cost has grown by 51 per cent in the past five years to Sh16.96 billion for the year ended March 2015 compared to Sh11.2 billion in 2011.
The airline did not offer its staff the option of applying for voluntary early retirement (VER) in an effort to put a lid on the exercise’s cost and block potential exits by key employees.
“Today, we will commence with the first phase of redundancies which will impact approximately 80 staff members,” said Kenya Airways.
“We are cognizant that this is a difficult period for Kenya Airways and employee assistance will be available for affected staff at the time of the exercise and for two weeks thereafter,” the statement added.