Kenya Airways, JKIA merger plan divides staff

A KQ plane

Two unions representing Kenya Airways (KQ) staff have differed on the proposed bid by the airline to take over the running of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

The Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) told the parliamentary committee on transport that it was opposed the proposal, saying it will result in job losses and disadvantage other facilities managed by the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa), on the other hand, has declared its support for the bid while admitting that it was not privy to the details of the Privately Initiated Investment Proposal (PIIP) presented by KQ.

“Kalpa is in full support of the takeover of JKIA if indeed it will improve the fortunes of Kenya Airways. Also because it will not require financial injection from the taxpayers,” Kalpa Secretary General Mureithi Nyaga told the National Assembly Transport Committee yesterday.

KQ’s plan, contained in the PIIP, includes the creation a special purpose vehicle (SPV) — a unit of a company that is shielded from the parent firm’s financial risk — to operate, maintain and develop JKIA.


Kawu secretar-general Moss Ndiema said a KAA write-up to KQ staff in January said the JKIA takeover will offer workers the option of secondment, transfer to the SPV or being declared redundant.

“None of the three options is guaranteeing workers their jobs under the same terms as today and as such, we want Parliament to reject the proposal,” he said.

Kawu has a membership of about 10,000, a quarter of whom are KQ employees, excluding pilots. The Kenya Association of Air Operators (KAAO) told the committee it was not in a position to take a stand on the matter until it sees the details of the PIIP.

KAAO is the umbrella body representing people engaged in air operations and allied businesses. It has 45 members, including Safarilink, Fly 540, AirKenya and ASL Limited.