Pilots strike cost Kenya Airways Sh1.3bn

Kenya Airways Embraer 190 airplane. 

Photo credit: File | pool

Kenya Airways (KQ) says it took a Sh1.3 billion financial hit from last November’s pilot strike that triggered the cancellation of scores of flights and left thousands of passengers stranded.

The airline gave the disclosure on Monday during the release of its financial performance for 2022, in which net loss more than doubled to a record Sh38.26 billion with a partly Sh23 billion rise in finance costs.

Chief financial officer at KQ, Hellen Mathuka, said the hit from the strike that lasted four days was beside the reputation risk that comes with service disruption in the aviation industry.

“The impact of the strike was Sh1.3 billion from a financial perspective. Besides that, there are other related issues in terms of recovery,” said Ms Mathuka.

The disclosure highlights the impact of the pilots’ strikes at the airline, struggling to return to profitability since 2012.

The union, Kenya Airlines Pilots Association (Kalpa), withdrew the strike notice and asked its nearly 400 members to resume duty following a court order.

KQ chief executive Allan Kilavuka said the true cost to the airline could be Sh3 billion if reputational damages are factored in.

“If we estimate the reputational damage, at least immediate or short-term, that would double that (Sh1.3 billion) number,” said Mr Kilavuka.

The pilots went on strike over several demands, including the call for the airline to resume payment of the monthly pension contribution equivalent to 10 percent of the workers’ pay.

Kalpa also demanded that KQ adhere to all signed documents agreed between them and that any future deviations be in consultation with the union.

It also called for the immediate sacking of some KQ senior staff, claiming they were unfit for those positions.

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