Court Cases

Labour Court grounds plane hired by KQ

Flight operations to five local destinations will be affected after the High Court yesterday grounded one of the planes hired by the national courier Kenya Airways.

The court arrived at the decision to halt operations of airplane -Dash 8 Q400, pending hearing of a suit filed by a pilot’s union lamenting that KQ never consulted them when it entered a deal with Jambojet Limited to add the plane into its flights.

Employment and Labour Relations court judge Hellen Wasilwa restrained the national courier from using the plane until Thursday this week when both parties will appear before her for hearing.

The Kenya Airlines Pilots Association (KAPA) sought the court’s intervention over the wet-leasing agreement between KQ and Jambojet which the union argues is contrary to the Civil Aviation (Air Operator Certification and Administration) Regulations, 2013.

The union, through their lawyer Samwel Mohochi, told the court that Jambojet is not a licensed Air Operator Certificate holder from the Civil Aviation Authority in line with the Airlines’ regulations hence it is incapable of executing any Wet Lease Agreements.

Mohochi said the national carrier in flagrant disregard of an ongoing conciliation process before the Labour Commissioner on the subject matter unilaterally together with Jambojet initiated new flight routes that would be serviced by wet-lease flights to the disadvantage of KAPA.

The pilot’s union in its papers said that its members’ rights to better pay would be infringed if the flights to Lamu, Ukunda, and Malindi were affected as from March 28. Subsequent flights to Eldoret and Kisumu were opposed with the union, claiming that KQ had not honoured their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) terms.

Mr Mohochi told the Employment and Labour Relations court the association’s members are in eminent risk of being rendered redundant following a Wet Lease Agreement entered between Jambojet Limited and DAC Aviation EA Limited for the hiring of Dash 8 Q400 plane together with crew members contrary to commitments by both KAPA and Kenya Airways.

“The initiation and continuance of flights on wet-lease agreement during pendency of a conciliation process by the Commissioner of Labour stands to further aggravate existing cordial industrial relations with far reaching consequences including disruption of traditional flights thus portending extensive losses to the parties,” KAPA said in their court papers.

The union, however, said KQ and Jambojet are at liberty to deploy any other aircrafts within their fleet pending the conciliation process. KAPA a contends that the current subsisting CBA between the union and KQ has been under review since May last year with the last negotiations on March 5, 2015 where both parties did not agree to new terms.

KAPA said following the deadlock the matter was mutually referred to the Labour Commissioner who has since appointed a conciliator and a conciliation process is on course with the first meeting having taken place on March 25.

Mr Mohochi told Justice Wasilwa that despite the ongoing conciliation process Jambojet proceeded to enter into a wet-lease agreement with DAC Aviation EA Limited and chartered eight Dash Q400 with crew members and also proceeded to commission three flight routes.

He told court that historically any wet-lease agreement by KQ haS been done upon consultation with KAPA citing a case in 2011 where KQ sought to enter into a wet-lease agreement with KLM in which according to the union said consultations and concurrence was mutually arrived at and subsequently the same was mutually extended.

“The respondent (KQ) currently has a fleet of parked aircrafts without use, to warrant wet-leasing is to the detriment of the claimant members. The ongoing conciliation process should be allowed to proceed without sideshows and in uttermost good faith by all parties concerned,” he argued.

The union is a member of the International Federation of Airline Pilots Association (IFALPA), a global professional body for pilots representing over 100,000 pilots and comprising of over 100 member associations.

It is seeking the intervention of the court to forestall an illegal wet leasing agreement entered into by Jambojet Limited.

Story Published on Standard Media on 4th April 2015 by Fred Makana

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