Kenya Airways to retrench its staff, 3 months after rehiring

KQ will also reduce the number of aircraft it operates.

Kenya Airways will also reduce the number of aircraft it operates (PHOTO /Courtesy)

Kenya’s national carrier— Kenya Airways —(KQ) is planning to retrench hundreds of workers in a restructuring move aimed at returning the airline to profitability.

This follows a Ksh26 billion bailout from the government meant to keep Kenya Airways from collapsing, after years of loss-making. The carrier has accumulated losses amounting to Ksh127 billion as of August 2021.

Its Chief executive Allan Kivaluka, confirmed Monday that the carrier aims to reduce its operating costs by working on a lean budget and staff, and also reducing its staff numbers.

Kenya Airways will also reduce the number of aircraft it operates.

The airline lost 1,123 employees to close 2020 with 3,652, in a period when coronavirus-related air travel restrictions saw it record the highest loss in its history. Half of the airline staff left through resignations or voluntary early retirements.

This comes barely three months after the airline in November last year started contacting some of its former employees who were affected by restructuring it undertook to avoid further losses brought by Covid-19 that disrupted business.

The recruitment exercise believed to have been ongoing since September 2921 was expected to last longer owing to the fact that most of Kenya Airways staff, had since assumed similar roles with rival airlines.

An estimated 1,123 employees lost their jobs.

Former employees who spoke anonymously to this writer confessed to snubbing offers by the national career with a host others expressing gratification in their present jobs.

“Yes I have been contacted and I appeared for an interview but most of my former colleagues are either into self-employment or taking up similar offers with foreign airlines who offer better pay,” commented a former employee who sort privacy.

Another former employee – a flight attendant who had worked with the airline for seven years before she was rendered redundant, admitted to receiving a call from KQ’s recruitment team – declining the offer as she had taken up an offer with an unidentified Gulf airline.

“Yes I was contacted but I declined. I am currently out of the country with a foreign airline which I’ll not disclose yet,” wrote the former employer in a WhatsApp message on such inquiries.

KQ, as it is known by its international code cut its workforce last year to survive the Covid-19 turbulence and sent several of its staff packing and putting others on unpaid leaves to steady its operating costs.

But a growing demand in the recent days has seen the cash-starved airline increase some frequencies to accommodate a growing number of passengers, mainly for domestic market in a move that coincides with looming December holidays – a period characterized by high spending in the sector.

In the last three months, KQ has increased both local and foreign frequencies to meet that demand with the UK route benefiting from the move. It restored the two weekly flights to Britain and another routine flight to France after suspending both routes due to Covid-19.

Also being questioned is the airline’s ability to return to profitability after consistent years of loss making.

“I always wonder how this airline makes losses yet it is the most expensive airline in East Africa,” wondered Lorenzo Cindy, a social media user while responding to the announcement.

“The plans are very few, an eye sore. They just look old and tired to fly. Others are just parked with naked engines, covers missing and wires popping out while others have dents on the wings and these are the same planes you will use to fly,” pointed Miganda Steve Kamikaaz, another Facebook user.

KQ posted a Sh11.49 billion net loss in the six months ended June this year— a 19.8 percent from the Sh14.33 billion loss it suffered in the preceding similar period, taking its accumulated losses over the years to above Sh127 billion.

Passenger revenue also dropped by 17 percent to Sh20.23 billion while cargo revenue went up 60 percent due to increased focus on freight operations, especially Covid-19-related essentials like vaccines.

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