Kenya Airways Strike: Does their education and salaries justify grounding of KQ?

Africa has lost its pride this Saturday, November 5, 2022 as Kenya Airways pilots refused to fly. Thousands of passengers are stranded in airports around the world as the Kenya Airways strike clock ticks through its first day. Among their grievances is a management structure that is steering one of Africa’s aviation giants to record losses amounting to billions over the years. According to the pilots, the losses are manufactured by a management that does not have the interest of the business at heart. If the brand crashes, their careers and livelihoods will also come tumbling from the skies.

The goose that lays the golden egg

The pilot is the most important employee for any airline. Pilots fly the planes that are at the center of KQ business. Consequently, the Kenya Airways pilots stand at the door of revenue collection. According to the CS for Transport, Kipchumba Murkomen, the airline and country stand to lose Ksh. 300 million for each day the planes remain grounded.  

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Training a Pilot to end the Kenya Airways Strike

Pilots are some of the highest paid professionals in Kenya and around the world. The average Kenya Airways pilot takes Ksh.1.6 million each month. There are other allowances and non-salary benefits based on your rank. Considering the sensitivity of the work of a pilot, every airline goes for the most experienced hands. Passengers will also feel confident in the hands of an experienced pilot.

Some high schools in Kenya offer aviation courses for students to begin their journeys to the skies. Mang’u High School at the gates of Thika Town is one of the oldest schools known to offer elementary aviation training. Since the school admits the cream of the Kenyan primary education, such lucrative opportunities to study aviation are extremely competitive.

The private sector has also taken its place in aviation training through Pioneer Group of Schools. The school offers aviation classes in high school before the learners proceed to further their studies in specialized colleges. It is owned by Munga, one of the most prolific investors from Murang’a. It is one of the most prestigious aviation schools for junior pilots. Students with 350 marks in KCPE get direct entry to the school. Below 350, you have to sit for an entry exam.

Training to be a Pilot

Tertiary level aviation training is diversified with colleges and universities offering different courses. Moi University Eldoret is perhaps the only university in Kenya offering flying lessons. Others have Space and Aviation courses but you can only fly from Moi University. You need the minimum C+ university entry degree. You should also have attained a minimum of C in English, Mathematics, Physics and Geography or Chemistry. The university requires you to meet the minimum KAA Medical Certificate requirements.

Colleges offering Flying, Aviation, and Space courses include East Africa School of Aviation, Kenya School of Flying, Flight Training Centre, Ninety Nines Flying School, Proactive Training Services, Skymax Aviation Limited, Aerosafe African Consultants, Nairobi Flight Training, and KQ Pride Centre. There are other schools making a name in aviation training. The ultimate goal is to get the Commercial Pilot License. It allows you to handle larger and more complicated aircraft in sensitive flying conditions.

Training as a pilot requires time and millions of shillings. You may need to spend up to 9.6 million to acquire the Commercial Pilot License required to fly the humongous Boeing KQ aircrafts now grounded by the Kenya Airways strike.

Experience is also extremely important for such a powerful brand Kenya Airways. No passenger will want to fly across the Indian Ocean under the stewardship of an amateur pilot fumbling with buttons in the cockpit. The value of experience was demonstrated by Ruth Karauri who landed the gigantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner amidst 80mph crosswinds resulting from Storm Eunice in February 2022. The losses emanating from an aircraft accidents run into billions of shillings through compensation, loss of aircrafts, and have long term reputation damage. For these reasons, airlines have to keep their most experienced pilots.

Kenya Airways Strike End

The CEO has given the pilots 24hrs to return to the skies. The Kenya Airways strike is the first industrial action of president Ruto’s administration and requires a quick resolution. Loss of revenue, brand damage, and internal conflicts are not helping an airline trying to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Finally, at the peak of the August and Christmas holiday seasons, this is the wrong time to pass on the advantage of flying millions of tourists into the country to foreign brands.

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