Kenyan government orders officials to fly troubled Kenya Airways
Kenyan government officials were ordered Thursday to fly beleaguered national airline Kenya Airways on trips abroad, but not without a sharp message to the carrier to shape up and be on time.
According to a cabinet statement, the “Fly Kenya Policy” will see all government officials “fly Kenya-registered carriers when travelling on official duty and whenever public funds are expended.”
The move of “support” comes as Kenya Airways is facing a crippling pilots strike over mismanagement at the airline which is facing massive financial losses and soaring public despair over corruption, flight delays and high prices.
A state of affairs that has not gone unnoticed by cabinet, which gave a veiled warning to the airline as it unveiled its new policy.
Cabinet urged Kenya Airways “to overhaul its services and offer internationally competitive services in all its departments ranging from the pricing regimes, to public relations and eliminating delays.”
The Kenyan Airline Pilots Association on Tuesday announced it would go on strike for seven days from October 18 if the airline’s top managers do not resign.
In a statement released Thursday the airline called the move “totally uncalled for”, adding it had reversed a downward financial performance spiral.
Half-year results expected at the end of October were expected to show a reduction in net losses of 63 million euros ($69 million) — from 107 million euros to 44 million euros, said the airline.
Full-year losses reported in July stood at $259-million.
“The threatened action is already costing Kenya Airways significant losses as passengers have begun to make cancellations,” read the statement.
The airline said that if the strike action was not cancelled, it will stop selling tickets on its network “given the costs associated with selling tickets and not carrying these passengers.”
The airline said a strike in April cost it $2 million.
Transport Minister James Macharia said in a statement released Thursday meanwhile that taking part in the strike at such a delicate phase in the airline’s recovery would be “tantamount to economic and national sabotage.”