Kenya Airways chair opts to quit as govt warns pilots

Kenya Airways chairman Dennis Awori has announced plans to quit following a fresh crisis sparked by a threat by the pilots union to down tools unless he and CEO Mbuvi Ngunze resign.

Sources familiar with the unfolding situation at its Airport North Road head offices indicated Awori could depart as early as the end of this month.

Former Safaricom chief executive Michael Joseph, who joined the board last week, has been tipped by some as the one who could take over at the helm of the troubled national carrier.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Associations issued a seven-day notice for Awori and Ngunze to exit accusing them of presiding over the continued deterioration of KQ’s fortunes. The notice is to expire on Monday.

Paul Gichinga, secretary general of the Kenya Airline Pilots Association, says they will down their tools from 5am Tuesday.

The airliner, which has threatened to stop ticket sales, warns the move is likely to plunge it into more losses. Similar action by the pilots in April saw KQ loss Sh203 million daily.

Already, some passengers have begun cancelling scheduled flights, the airline said in a statement.

According to the statement, KQ’s first-half earnings to be released at the end of this month will show a reduction in net loss to Sh5 billion meaning it is on a positive stretch. Last year, it reported a full year loss of Sh26 billion.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has since warned the pilots against going ahead with their strike plan.

“The government will use all the levers available under law to take action against those who defy this directive,” James Macharia, the transport minister, said in a statement.

Earlier, his Tourism counterpart Najib Balala had appealed to the pilots not to proceed with the strike as it would make the situation worse.

“Kenya Airways needs help, it does not need condemnation. When you go on strike, you are not only affecting travel and inconveniencing people, but that is how you are bringing your airline down,” he said.






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