Kenya Airways’ (KQ) maiden direct flight to New York may not go as planned after aviation union workers promised to boycott the airline; just days before the trip.
The Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) has insisted that KQ is yet to rationalize workers’ pay as well as improve working conditions for personnel who will handle the long voyage to the United States.
According to a local daily, the Union is demanding for better hourly rates for the cabin crew who will be handling the direct flights to the states as well as finalization on pending CBA negotiations.
As such, the workers Union has called on all personnel to abandon duties pertaining to the US direct flight; scheduled for October 28, 2018, until the matter is fully resolved.
“It is our demand that management commits to concluding the CBA negotiations before October 28, 2018. To that end we, are calling on all our members across all sections to stay away from the USA operations until further advised by the union,” Kawu Secretary- General Moses Ndiema said in a letter dated October 17 to members and KQ management.
The local daily also reports that top brass of the airline have urged the union to withhold on the strike until the inaugural flight to the States is done successfully.
“Only after successful launch of the New York route will the CBA negotiations be conducted,” Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz is quoted as saying.
The idea of KQ being able to conduct direct flights to the States was only achieved following exertions by the government through the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority that led to Kenya acquiring a Category One Status in 2017 that endorsed direct flights from the country to the US.
JKIA would later obtain the Last Point of Departure (LPD) clearance in August, 2018, which was the final obstacle in Kenya Airways plans to offer direct flights to the United States.
The U.S. is Kenya’s biggest tourism market and the airline estimates the New York route will boost revenue by 10 percent in 2019. Kenya Airways expects a load factor of 75 percent to 80 percent in first year of flights to the American city and 95 percent per cent in the following year.