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KQ declares war

08 April 2013, 13:52

Nairobi - Kenya Airways management is gearing up to fend off stiff competition from rivals South African Airways and Ethiopian Airlines, which could eat into its profit margins.

The airline’s survival strategy hinges on keeping its aggressive competitors from snatching its skilled workers, overhauling its ageing fleet, and ratcheting-up its trainee pilot programme.

The move followed concerns that a shortage of pilots on long haul routes, was threatening to ground the airline, forcing it to hire foreign pilots, also targeted by rival airlines.

In a statement to the media, Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni acknowledged 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, Naikuni added.”

By the end of the year, the airline will have revamped its pilot trainee programme; drawing trainees from different backgrounds and helping them acquire commercial pilot’s licenses.

Although the region has been haemorrhaging pilots to better paying countries, the local aviation recruitment  has been low leading to fears of an industrial collapse.

Kenya Airways also plans to increase its fleet to 119 by 2021 and to open new flight destinations from the current 50 destinations to 115, including flying to every African capital.

Under the expansion programme, the airline will take delivery of 10 E-190 jets between 2012 and 2013 from Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer. It has already received six with the remaining set for delivery later this year.

- CAJ News


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