Troubled flag-carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) on Monday announced a recruitment drive for new pilots to replace striking staff who have grounded flights since Saturday.
KQ's Chief People Officer Tom Shivo said that the airline has commenced hiring captains and first officers, a move that could escalate the ongoing trade dispute.
“If you fit the profile, then apply today. Please submit a copy of your detailed Curriculum Vitae here on LinkedIn only by Friday, November 18, 2022. Due to the volume of applications that we receive, only short-listed candidates will be contacted,” read an advert posted online by the carrier.
Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) which has about 400 members has downed tools to protest among other issues the withdrawal of staff retirement fund by the management.
"I can confirm that we are looking for suitable applicants to fill the positions of Captains and First Officers at Kenya Airways," said Mr Shivo.
The strike which entered the third day on Monday has affected over 12,000 passengers and businesses that use the national carrier to import and export goods.
The labour dispute, which escalated after the Transport and Labour ministries failed to broker a deal, has seen more than 300 tonnes of perishable cargo rot at the airport and left thousands of passengers stranded.
KQ has argued that its financial health does not allow it to meet the pilots’ pay demands immediately and has threatened to sack those who defied last week's court order suspending the strike.
The strike has forced the airline to cancel 56 flights as of Sunday. Over 12,000 passengers are still stranded at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi while more than 300 tonnes of perishable goods have been rotting at the JKIA since Saturday morning.
KQ has also not been able to fly pharmaceutical products.
This strike, KQ says, will cost it approximately Sh300 million a day. In a week, this translates to Sh2.1 billion.
By Sunday, the airline was only able to operate four flights, mainly by pilots who are non-Kalpa members.
The flights were destined for Addis Ababa, Entebbe, and Mombasa. The fourth flight was scheduled to leave for Lusaka in the evening from JKIA.