Kenya Airways seeks to win back engineers, CEO search continues

Kenya Airways seeks to win back engineers, CEO search continues

Kenya Airways is considering offering higher wages to entice back dozens of engineers who quit the loss-making carrier to join Gulf-based airlines in the past year, its chairman said on Friday.

The airline, part-owned by the state and part-owned by AirFrance KLM, sank into the red four years ago after tourism slumped following a spate of attacks in Kenya by militants from the Somalia-based al Shabaab Islamist group.

Its financial predicament caused salary delays and industrial action, with 70 engineers quitting the carrier to join airlines mainly in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The Kenyan airline currently has about 600 engineers.

“We have had an exodus of engineers from Kenya Airways … We will be looking at some adjustments in packages and things like that to attract them back,” recently appointed chairman Michael Joseph told reporters.

He said they were also in discussions with pilots union KALPA to allow them to hire foreign pilots on short-term contracts if the need arises.

“We may have a shortage of pilots as well,” he said, adding that the firm was seeking to lift the productivity and efficiency of existing pilots.

Joseph said he was interviewing candidates to replace outgoing Chief Executive Mbuvi Ngunze, who is set to leave at the end of March.

In November, KALPA had threatened an indefinite strike and had demanded the removal of the airline’s previous chairman Dennis Awori and chief executive Ngunze. The new chairman said he expects interviews for the CEO post to be concluded by the end of this month.

In the three months to December, the airline posted a 4 percent increase in passenger numbers.

A capital restructuring exercise, being led by PJT Partners, is set to be concluded by the end of March, Joseph said, without offering details.

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