Hundreds of passengers stranded as pilots launch a boycott in Kenya.

Hundreds of passengers stranded as pilots launch a boycott in Kenya.

Several scheduled flights were on Friday cancelled as Kenya Airways (KQ) pilots vowed to begin a strike today on claims the airline’s management failed to address their grievances.

A crisis meeting between the Kenya Airline Pilots Asociation (Kalpa) and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Mukomen yesterday failed to reach a deal by the time of going to press amid the cancellation of flights on at least three routes: Nairobi-Entebbe (9.55 pm), Nairobi-Lagos (3.30 am) and Nairobi-Douala (9.40 pm).

If successful, the industrial action, planned to start at 6 am, will affect thousands of business and leisure travellers, leaving the airline at risk of heavy revenue losses.

Kenya Airways had sought court orders to stop the industrial action citing the risk of paying hefty fines on cancellation of flights totalling about Sh300 million.

Kalpa issued a 14-day strike notice on October 19, citing four reasons.

They want the board and executives ousted for undisclosed governance and leadership issues, the airline’s failure to implement pay agreements (CBA), alleged victimisation of Kalpa members and non-payment of monthly pension contributions for staff.

“The strike notice has since expired, and we are therefore at liberty to exercise our right to withdraw our labour forthwith as enshrined in Article 41, Chapter 4 of the Kenyan Constitution,” Mr Nyaga said Friday.

KQ froze, paying the monthly pension contribution equivalent to 10% of the workers’ pay at the peak of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

It requires about Sh1.3 billion annually for the contributions, with the pilots’ share accounting for about Sh700 million.

KQ says that it cannot continue paying the provident fund and, simultaneously, detailed outstanding salaries that amount to Sh6.5billion due to its depressed revenues.

“As you know, we continue to pay back the deferred salaries and expect to start paying back the contributions to the provident fund in 2023,” said KQ Chairman Michael Joseph in a statement to workers this week.