Kenya Airways allowed to send 10 pilots home

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020 00:00 |
Kenya Airways plane. Photo/File

Steve Umidha @UmidhaSteve

A lobby representing local pilots has termed the Court of Appeal verdict which ruled in favour of Kenya Airways over a decision to retire 10 of its members in 2015, as propaganda, claiming it “had not been served.”

In a telephone interview on Monday, Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) secretary general Muriithi Nyagah denied any knowledge of the ruling delivered on Friday 22, saying “as far as we are concerned the matter is still in court.”

Nyagah said the association’s lawyers “are not aware of such a ruling” pitting former senior KQ aviators, most of whom had served the airline for over two decades.

In a 17-page ruling on a complaint lodged by the pilots through Kalpa, the Court of Appeal judges Roslyne Nambuye and Asike Makhandia ruled that the affected pilots did not deserve compensation for wrongful dismissal as their employer – KQ, had opted to retire them in a bid to restructure its business and not as a result of a disciplinary process.


“That upon being served with early retirement letters by the respondent, only two went back to renegotiate. The eight did not because they wanted to pursue the redundancy route.

They were, therefore, given an opportunity to be heard. We find no merit in this complaint and it is rejected,” reads in part the ruling which was delivered last Friday.

In its defence, KQ claimed the pilots refused to fly their assigned aircraft and went on a go-slow to protest the decision, a move the airline says cost it more than Sh49 million in losses for the period the target pilots failed to fly.

KQ had hired 39 pilots to fly its fleets but in 2014, the local carrier – after suffering reduced business growth returns, decided to exit its B777-2000 and B777-300 aircraft fleet and in return, offered early retirement packages with full benefits to 10 of the affected pilots effective May, 2015.

Years of service

Between January 14 and March 15, the court heard that the pilot’s employer, KQ, on several occasion invited the pilots for meetings over the matter, but were either neglected or ignored – a move that forced KQ to engage the 10 pilots individually.

The ruling now leaves the affected pilots with insignificant options to argue their case.

“Unless under special circumstance, where a five-bench sitting is put in place to hear this matter, I do not think we have any option left.

Supreme Court is the highest court and as far as I am concerned it is the end,” said one of the affected pilots who asked not to be quoted. 

Prior to his dismissal the pilot served the airline for more than 30 years and left without recompense.

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