Monday, April 8, 2013

■ KENYA: Experienced-pilots shortage a headache to Kenya Airways and a possible dampener to Project Mawingu.

Kenya Airways
Kenya Airways (KQ) expansion plans, as outlined in its ambitious 10 year vision, Project Mawingu, could be hampered by a lack of adequately trained personnel, most critically among them, experienced pilots.

Kenya Airways E190 in Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya Airways E190 in Nairobi
According to the Centre for African Journalists, Kenya Airways has had to embark on a recruitment drive abroad as it seeks pilots capable of operating the airline's diverse fleet encompassing Embraer Regional Jets, Boeing 737-800s, Boeing 777s and soon, Boeing 787s.

Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni acknowledges that while pilots can easily be hired, getting those with the right qualifications and experience was not easy.
We have been working with unions (Kenya Aviation’s and Allied Workers’ Union) and the relevant state agencies to hire some expatriates. The reality is we don’t have enough pilots who have the right experience we are looking for,” he says.
Source [CAJ]

The issue of hiring foreign workers at Kenya Airways has often been a bone of contention between management and unions with last year's strike focussing on growing concerns the unions had about the influx of expatriates to the Kenyan national carrier.

Kenya Airways does have a home grown pilot school which gives local Kenyans the opportunity to study and become a qualified Commercial Pilot. However, as is often the story, pilots are soon lured away by higher salaries at higher profile airlines.

Under its 10-year strategic plan, Kenya Airways targets increasing its fleet to 119 by 2021; while growing the number of destinations to over 115 from the over 50 that it currently flies to an added four B777-300ERs, nine 787-8s an additional four Embraer ERJ190s.