Kenya’s national airline, Kenya Airways (KQ) has revealed plans to lay off half of its pilots as it slashes costs to weather the cash flow crisis that has been left behind by the Covid-19 pandemic.
KQ intends to send homeup to 207 of its 414 pilot jobs, which accounts for nearly half of its payroll costs, over the next three years ina bid to save nearly Sh3.24 billion if it meets the desired target of having between 207 and 248 pilots on its books.
“Based on our three-year projection, we will require 50 percent to 60 percent of pilots to efficiently support the reduced operations,” KQ chief executive Allan Kilavuka says. “Our target is to reduce the company’s overall total fixed costs, not just staff costs, by about 50 percent in response to our revenue projections.”
So far, the struggling airline has so far laid off some 650 employees, mostly trainee pilots, trainee cabin crew, technician trainees and newly hired staff on probation, and plans to shed 590 more jobs.
While pilots account for 10pc of the airline’s total workforce, the airline says their pay is equivalent of 45pc of the overall payout to employees or Sh6.48 billion based on the carrier’s wage bill for the year to December.
This means that on average a KQ pilot costs the company Sh1.3 million, a payout that matches the salaries and allowances of top chief executives of State-owned firms such as KenGen , Kenya-Re and Kenya Power.
“We are reducing our network, our assets, and our people. The reduction will not be like for like, meaning that the shrinkage will not be uniform across the three areas,” said Mr Kilavuka.
Experts argue that this is bad news as pilots in Kenya will be poached by wealthy Middle East carriers that can afford to pay higher wages.
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