Kenya Airways in troubled waters again as flight relaunch dates announced


(Posted 07th July 2020)

The announcement by Kenya Airways, that the airline intends to sack a considerable number of staff alongside asset sales and route cuts, has gone down like a lead balloon with the unions representing aviation workers, including KALPA, the Kenya Airline Pilots Association.

Several regular readers raised the question with ATCNews why Ethiopian Airlines was to announce a profit, albeit a lot smaller than last year, and has kept operations going with repatriation flights and cargo services, while Kenya Airways only kept lamenting instead of copying the methods of competitors to stay in business and keep flying. Ethiopian last week stated that they are operating as many as 40 repatriation flights a week and that their cargo fleet is fully utilised.

KQ operated but a few repatriation flights and a limited number of cargo operations while Ethiopian’s cargo fleet was complemented by some 20 wide body aircraft being modified to also carry goods in the main passenger cabin.

The use of language by the Kenya Airways management communication, speaking of ‘rationalisation’ and ‘rightsizing’ has also prompted sharp responses from staff who have been on a fraction of their past wages already over the past months as the airline had run short of cash flow and government denied a second bailout of 7 billion Kenya Shillings following a 5 billion Kenya Shillings injection earlier in the year. Said one in a comment to ATCNews: ‘This is the language of Mikosz and Joseph and the new CEO has like a good child absorbed their methods and sings the same tunes‘.

It is understood that Kenya Airways is now seeking to relaunch domestic flight operations, alongside subsidiary Jambojet, from mid July onwards and a relaunch of international flights is possible as per a government announcement as of August this year. Actual flight resumption dates and destinations however are yet to be confirmed, given that many African countries continue to maintain lockdowns of their own and that flights to the EU from Kenya are not listed as permitted according to information published by EU aviation authorities.

With the nationalisation bill tabled in parliament in Nairobi are all eyes now on developments there, in what format the bill might be passed and when the buyout of private shareholders can take place, and at what value.
Private shareholders and the banks have already indicated that they expect compensation way above the present share value, likely at prices in effect for shares when the debt for equity swap took place some time ago, or even higher, when small shareholders at the time felt they were cheated out of their investments and savings.