Recent revelations that Kenya Airways (KQ) spent Sh188 million to accommodate passengers who missed flights raises concern. Statistics show 40 percent flights got cancelled, an average of three daily, going by August data. Including delayed flight, this picture could be worse compared to other operators given local flight data was not included.
Kenya Airways’ recent losses and government bailouts makes it a public concern and there's been lots of talk regarding its survival.
The flopped merger/acquisition of Kenya Airports Authority in a bid to shore up her fortunes would not address the root of the matter: strikes are a symptom of an organisation whose workers are not attuned with employer expectations or aligned with realities of the business.
KQ is broke and would be bust were it not for government intervention multiple times. How long this will go? Only time will tell. The regional airspace is changing and it can’t be business as usual.
Innovations around transport and logistics have seen ride hailing firms like Uber, Taxify fulfil the only wish passengers desire: move from point A to B efficiently and cheaply. Who does it is not of concern to most users.
Aviation workers have grievances, but if health sector strikes are anything to go by, it’s easy to see why this fight will not be long lived. One of the reasons cited for missed departures includes pilots not showing up for work.
Like other professionals, medics too are not allowed to work if tired, but are obligated to ensure alternative arrangements are in place so as not to disrupt work.
In KQ’s scenario, either pilots employed are few, or another prevailing reason is the cause. If the latter case is the reason, there are lessons to learn from the health sector.
Earlier, doctors' low numbers accorded us immense opportunity and bargaining power in labour matters. This sometimes allowed unethical work practices to creep in.
The doctors’ number was identified as the weak negotiating power for the employer. An increase in training facilities and allowance of a vibrant private sector led to attainment of surplus workers.
In the next decade, as doctors' numbers swell above absorption capacity while those in the training pipeline rise, shorter, performance-based contracts will be introduced, creating an interesting proposition. Potentially, hospitals could have to run their operations pegged on budgets like in other countries.
For pilots, this analogy opines why things are not as they were. With regional airlines scaling, passengers have options.
If taxi hailing apps offer any insights, perhaps the future holds a "no flight no payment" scenario. There is no comfort in monopolies in an industry. Disruption always happens.