Kenya Airways pilots call off strike saying some demands met

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 28, 2016 2:51 PM

By Duncan Miriri

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya Airways pilots called off a strike on Thursday after the carrier met some of their demands, the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) said, adding they would fully resume work on Friday.

KALPA's members took the industrial action earlier on Thursday to push for the removal of the airline's chief executive, prompting Kenya Airways to cancel all but two of its evening flights up to 2300 GMT (07:00 p.m. EDT).

Kenya Airways, which is one of the largest carriers in Africa and ferries 10,000 passengers a day with a fleet of Boeing and Embraer jets, had already canceled 10 other flights.

KALPA General Secretary Paul Gichinga said the airline had made some management changes that met the pilots' minimum demands, without giving more details.

"We are happy with the information they have given us on the management changes we demanded but that is not for us to announce," he told Reuters.

The pilots had taken the action despite an agreement reached a day earlier to defer the strike until June 1. The strike lasted from midday until late on Thursday, but for practical reasons full flights will resume on Friday.

Pilots oppose Chief Executive Mbuvi Ngunze's planned measures to turn around the loss-making carrier, which is 26.7 percent owned by Air France KLM, and have demanded his immediate resignation.

The association said they would operate as normal while talks continue until June 1 over the rest of their demands.

Kenya Airways was not immediately available to comment.

Instead of turning up for work on Thursday, scores of pilots attended a meeting of the association. The pilots later voted to go ahead with the strike.

The airline said the strike had gone on even though it had obtained a court order the previous day barring any industrial action and the pilots' union agreeing to delay the strike.

KALPA issued a two-day notice to the carrier on Tuesday saying its members would stop flying planes until Ngunze resigned over what it called "questionable" turnaround measures.

The airline has been selling assets, including planes, and plans to lay off 600 people as it tries to stay in operation after three and a half years of financial losses.

Transport Minister James Macharia and Dennis Awori, chairman of the airline's board had met with KALPA on Thursday but their pleas not to ground the airline's fleet were rejected.

(Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo and George Obulutsa; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Alexander Smith)