130 pilots left Kenya Airways (KQ) to Middle East airlines in just one year for greener pastures, the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) has said.
The departure of the 130 pilots leaves the carrier with 430 pilots, a deficit of 200 pilots according to KALPA.
This puts to question reports by KQ that its pilots are the best paid in Africa. KQ CEO Sebastian Mokosz said a better chunk of the national carrier’s income goes to pilots’ pockets.
According to the association’s secretary general Mureithi Nyaga, the financial woes facing KQ cannot be attributed to pilots’ pay, but instead are as a result of poor management, high cost of ticketing and high expatriates’ wages.
Appearing before the National Assembly Transport and Housing Committee last week, Nyaga said that KQ could lose a big number of its engineers who are being targeted by competitor airlines.
“Our members have moved to the Middle East airlines who are offering better packages. Why are they not turning down the offer if they are the best paid by KQ? posed Nyaga.
According to Nyaga, pilots flying the Boeing earn a gross salary of Ksh483,350 while those flying Embraer earn Ksh407,916. Captains get a house allowance of Ksh36,000 while first officers get Ksh30,814 for the same.
“The figures the CEO stated are exaggerated. I am not aware where the CEO got the Ksh1.6 million he was telling you about,” said Nyaga.
The shortage of pilots could have affected most KQ routes, with the airliner opting to code sharing with Delta Airlines in the US direct flights.
A code sharing deal is a commercial arrangement between two airlines, whereby one sells seats on a flight operated by the other. In this sense, Kenya Airways, owing to its limited financial ability, will be ‘selling’ its passengers to the American carrier.
“As part of our commitment to the New York route, we are proud to be a part of this partnership that will open up opportunities for our customers to access more destinations in North America through the John F. Kennedy Airport,” KQ CEO Sebastian Mikosz said.