Kenya Airways Pilots Call Off Strike

April 28, 2016

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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 23:00 GMT.

Kenya Airways, which is one of the largest carriers in Africa with 10,000 passengers a day, had already cancelled 10 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 said.

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 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.

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 until Ngunze resigned over what it called "questionable" turnaround measures.

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

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