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Pilots call off planned strike after KQ makes board change

From 2nd left: Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) treasurer Andrew Nderu, assistant secretary general Peter Makau, secretary general Paul Gichinga and chairman Njoroge Murimi at a past media briefing. Kalpa had threatened to go on strike if Kenya Airways’ MD Mbuvi Ngunze and former chairman Ambassador Dennis Awori do not resign. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU
From 2nd left: Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) treasurer Andrew Nderu, assistant secretary general Peter Makau, secretary general Paul Gichinga and chairman Njoroge Murimi at a past media briefing. Kalpa had threatened to go on strike if Kenya Airways’ MD Mbuvi Ngunze and former chairman Ambassador Dennis Awori do not resign. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU  

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) has called off its planned industrial action at Kenya Airways, citing confidence in a recent board change at the airline that saw Michael Joseph appointed the new chairman.

The pilots lobby on October 17 agreed to defer their planned strike scheduled for the next day after the government promised action against top KQ officials named by consulting firm Deloitte as being responsible for the airline’s troubles.

Kalpa, which is made up of about 450 pilots, had threatened to go on strike if Kenya Airways’ managing director Mbuvi Ngunze and former chairman Ambassador Dennis Awori did not resign.

Mr Awori has since been replaced by former Safaricom chief executive Mr Joseph.

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“The Kalpa executive council has been monitoring the developments at Kenya Airways,” Captain Paul Gichinga, Kalpa’s secretary general, said in a statement.

“Based on the progress on specific issues raised by Kalpa, we are confident that these developments will positively impact on the airline’s recovery efforts. To this regard, we are today, formally withdrawing the strike notice that had been deferred on October 17,” he said Thursday.

The national carrier released its half year results last week, indicating it had has cut its net loss by over a half to Sh4.8 billion mainly aided by cost-cutting initiatives.

The airline’s decision to sell and sublease aircraft reduced its fleet ownership costs by Sh4.6 billion to Sh8.5 billion and thereby improved its net loss for the six months to September by 60 per cent from last year’s Sh11.95 billion.

KQ further booked savings from lower global fuel costs which also helped shrink direct costs by Sh2 billion to Sh32.8 billion.

These savings compensated for KQ’s 3.5 per cent dip in revenue to Sh54.7 billion (mainly due to lower passenger revenues) as well as a Sh2 billion hit the airline booked for the ongoing restructuring plan which has included staff exits.

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