Due to the spread of coronavirus that crushed air travel demand, Kenya Airways is pushing to have its pilots paid per trip as they seek a lower wage bill.
According to the Kenya Airways Chief Executive offer, Mr. Allan Kilavuka said the airline would pursue talks with the pilots over the radical pay plan. He added that they are looking at an arrangement where they pay pilots as they fly.
With no quick recovery in sight, KQ is seeking to cuts costs in a plan that will see it lay off an unspecified number of workers, get rid of some assets, and review aircraft leasing terms.
On 14th October, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) said they will set the perks of Chief Executives of Kenya Airways, the Airports Authority, and the yet to be formed Kenya Aviation Investment Corporation if Parliament adopts proposals to nationalize KQ and consolidate the operations of parastatals in aviation.
The amendments to the National Aviation Management Bill, 2020 propose to take away the power of setting salaries and other benefits of the chief executives of the three State-owned corporations from their respective boards.
Kenya Airways, which was struggling long before the Covid-19 outbreak, has deployed 26 percent of its airplane capacity on reduced air travel, especially on the European route. KQ said it preferred to lay off half of its pilots to withstand the cash flow deepened by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Kenya Airways, the airline intends to cut up to 207 of its 414 pilot jobs, which accounts for nearly half of its payroll costs, over the next three years.
The airline, which is struggling to survive the pandemic, it expects to save nearly 3.24 billion shillings if it meets the desired target of having between 207 and 248 pilots on its books.
Pilots account for 10 percent of the airline’s total workforce but take home the equivalent of 45 percent of the overall payout to employees of 6.48 billion shillings based on the carrier’s wage bill for the year to December.
This means that on average a KQ pilot costs the company 1.3 million shillings, a payout that matches the salaries and allowances of top chief executive of State firms such as KenGen, Kenya-Re, and Kenya Power.
Kenya Airways has privatized 24 years ago but sank into debt and losses in 2014 after a failed expansion drive, costly purchase of aircraft, and a slump in travelers following a major terror attack.