Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ has lost 130 pilots to Middle East airlines in the past one year due to poor pay, the national pilots’ association has said.
The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) dismissed claims by Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz that the airline's pilots are the best paid in Africa, gobbling up a large share of its income.
The association said currently there are 430 pilots at Kenya Airways and that the national carrier needs additional 200.
KALPA dismissed suggestions that its members' pay packages are part of the financial woes facing KQ and instead attributed the problems to high cost of tickets, poor management and high expatriates' pay.
The association's secretary-general, Mureithi Nyaga, told the National Assembly Transport and Housing Committee last week that if indeed they were the best paid in Africa as claimed by the Kenya Airways CEO, then their members would not have been lured by other airlines.
Mr Nyaga told the MPs that other international airlines have also been targeting KQ engineers whom he said are some of the best trained in Africa.
“Our members have moved to the Middle East airlines who are offering better packages. Why are they not turning down [the offers] if they are the best paid by KQ?" Asked Mr Nyaga.
He told the committee chaired by Pokot South MP David Pkosing that pilots flying Boeing earn a gross salary of Sh483,350 whhile those flying Embraer earn Sh407,916.
The captains, he said, get a house allowance of Sh36000 while first officers get Sh30,814.
Pilots who fly outside the country are also entitled to Sh20,000 as accommodation per night, he said.
“The figures the CEO stated are exaggerated. I am not aware where the CEO of Kenya Airways got the Sh1.6 million he was telling you about,” Mr Nyaga said.
Mr Mikosz, appearing before the same committee, had said the pilots take home Sh1.6 million per month despite flying only 533 hours in a year.
Mr Nyaga said that the pilots fly 780 hours in a year.