Kenya Airways is set to loan its Boeing 777 pilots to Ethiopian Airlines in a bid to cut staff costs and remain afloat.
The national carrier has written a circular to the pilots of the grounded Boeing 777 fleet, asking them to apply for temporary transfer to Ethiopian Airline Enterprises.
KQ’s acting head of employee relationship Murage Latiffa Cherono says in the letter dated April 8 that interested captains should submit their applications immediately.
“As you are aware, we have been facing financial difficulties hence the decision by Kenya Airways to seek alternative avenues to utilise you,” the letter said.
Those who elect to apply for the lateral transfer will work for Ethiopian Airlines for three years. They will have an option to rejoin Kenya Airways if the ongoing turnaround strategy is successful. Insiders say Kenya Airways will bill Ethiopian Airlines, and then pay the redeployed Kenyan captains.
Those to be redeployed are currently on a salary of more than Sh1 million a month. But they have hardly flown any aircraft in the last six months.
Recently, Kenya Airways announced plans to lay off 600 staff as a cost -cutting measure. It is not clear if the Ethiopian redeployment is part of the employee reduction programme.
The arline, owned 29 per cent by the state, has been on financial downward spiral for the last one year, posting a loss of Sh25.7 billion for financial year ending March 2015.
It is currently selling off most of its assets, including the four Boeing 777s whose pilots it is shipping out. KQ is selling its prime land in Embakasi at an estimated cost of Sh2 billion.
Group managing director Mbuvi Ngunze has reassured the public that the financial turbulence will be addressed soon.