Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph has rejected calls by pilots at the national carrier for him and CEO Allan Kilavuka to resign. Backing his leadership and throwing his full weight behind Kilavuka, Michael Joseph in a statement issued on Monday, October 31 expressed confidence in the management team’s ability to turn the loss-making airline around.
Joseph’s statement came as the Employment and Labour Relations Court granted an injunction temporarily stopping a planned strike by pilots at KQ. Besides calling for the resignations of Joseph and Kilavuka, the pilots want deferred salaries and contributions to provident funds paid quickly by KQ. They had planned to start the strike today, on Tuesday, November 1.
Acknowledging their grievances, Joseph stated: “We are aware that KALPA has given notice of a strike, with the main grievance being the non-payment of contributions to the Provident funds. We recognize this as a genuine grievance but don’t believe its a justifiable strike reason, as no amount of strike action can produce more cash to pay both the deferred salaries and provident fund contributions simultaneously,” highlighting the loss-making airline’s deteriorating fiscal health.
He, however, expressed hope of a positive outcome, noting that they were working with the department of labour to resolve the issues. Joseph further described some statements made by pilots calling for their axing as ‘extremely painful and dérogatory’.
“There is no clear justification for this other than a general statement about mismanagement and poor decisions without any detail,” he shared.
Kenya Airways, which last posted a profit in 2012, has been surviving on government bailouts after several torrid years, made worse by the impact of Covid-19 on the global aviation sector. Joseph, however, maintained that the carrier was on track to break even in 2024 and be profitable thereafter.
“Let me be clear. The Board, myself and I believe our shareholders have absolute confidence in Allan and his management team. No amount of threats or coercion will compel us to ask for any resignations from anyone and, certainly, I have no intention of stepping down unless the KQ board, following due process, requests my resignation,” Joseph asserted.