National carrier Kenya Airways has announced plans to layoff 590 employees in line with the second phase of its planned restructuring exercise aimed to cushion the airline against the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first phase of the restructuring exercise, which is targeting at least 1500 employees, kicked off last month with the airline sacking 700 staff members made up of pilots, cabin crew members, and technical specialists.
In a letter to staff, Kenya Airways Group Managing Director Allan Kilavuka attributed the move to a struggling aviation industry that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The virus, according to Mr. Kilavuka, has greatly hindered global travel of people thus affecting the airline’s major revenue collection stream.
“Our situation continues to be extremely difficult. Last month we began the difficult but necessary process of rightsizing the organization. The rightsizing process began with the relooking of our network. We have reduced the destinations and our frequencies to match anticipated demand. The next phase of the staff rationalization actions will see some staff in the various departments across the organization declared redundant. This phase is expected to impact about 590 members of staff,” Mr. Kilavuka notes in the letter.
The airline resumed local flights on July 15, while global flights made a comeback on August 1, albeit at low frequencies. KQ’s domestic load factor currently stands at 59 percent while the international load factor is at 37 percent.
Mr. Kilavuka similarly revealed that the airline will also restructure the size of its fleet capacity to make the airline’s structure better suited for the organization’s current needs.
“We are doing this because we will not be able to afford to run the current size of operations based on the anticipated revenue. This is why it is also necessary to rationalize the staff size, the KQ MD explained.
In a news report by the Star Newspaper, KQ Chairman Michael Joseph is quoted as saying that the restructuring exercise is set to be concluded by September.
It remains unclear how the airline, which is in the process of nationalization, plans to lay off workers with full benefits when it is struggling to pay salaries and this has led to objections from various bodies such as the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA), the Kenya Aviation Workers Union- KAWU and the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU).