Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) Press Statement on Shortage of Pilots in Kenya Hiring of Foreign Pilots

KALPA (Kenya Airline Pilots Association) is the umbrella body representing professional pilots in Kenya, majority of whom are in the employment of a major local operator.
KALPA is an active member of IFALPA (International Federation of Airline Pilots Association), the mother organisation representing and co-ordinating professional Airline Pilots Associations worldwide.
In recognition of the growing importance of Kenya as an emerging and robust aviation hub, IFALPA, at the invitation of KALPA successfully hosted on October 25th-27th 2011, its annual AFI/MID (Africa and Middle-East) regional meeting in Nairobi where fruitful deliberations with industry stakeholders were held.
Through its steadily growing professional membership, KALPA seeks to continue to UPHOLD and ENHANCE the HIGHEST SAFETY STANDARDS required in this very SAFETY CONSCIOUS industry.
As we all know, the growth of the aviation industry and the strategic position of Kenya as a potential major regional aviation hub has informed the decision by the Government of Kenya to recognise the industry as a cornerstone of ‘Vision 2030’.
The KAA (Kenya Airports Authority) has gallantly taken up this challenge with vigour as seen by commencement of major infrastructural projects at Kisumu International Airport and J.K.I.A. The Industry eagerly awaits ground breaking of the Greenfield Terminal.
To affirm its commitment in ‘Vision 2030’, the Government of Kenya has chosen to exercise her rights in the just concluded rights issue of the National carrier. The acquisition of a 7.4% stake of the National carrier by the World Banks’ development arm, IFC (International Finance Corporation), and further commitment to finance its expansion serves to confirm to all stakeholders that the industry is steering the right course.
We would also like to encourage the Government to continue to increase funding to the KCAA (Kenya Civil Aviation Authority) to ensure its continued independence as it executes this herculean regulatory task. This will not only allow KCAA to be able to afford much needed talent to complement its existing work-force but also discourage KCAA from passing on the cost of regulation to the air operators, rendering them less able to remain competitive with regional and international competitors.
A strong believer in BRAND KENYA, KALPA whole-heartedly embraces “Vision 2030”, informed that it will lift KENYA and Kenyans to greater heights. We strongly believe and continue to advocate that the cockpits of Kenyan registered aircrafts continue to be flown by Kenyan pilots.
Various articles have quoted industry stakeholders intimating pilot shortages and predicting further deepening of the same in the future.
KALPA has noted with concern this pattern of mis-information highlighted in both print and electronic media and would like to take the earliest opportunity to set the record straight.
FACT 1. The Kenyan market remains able to meet the current and future demand for pilots. The numbers of pilots graduating, training and enrolling into local Flight Training Schools (FTS) will confirm this.
FACT 2. These Schools (major investments of industrious and hard-working Kenyans) mostly located at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, continue to churn out very able and well trained CPL (Commercial Pilot Licence) holders who meet the minimum requirements for employment by all categories of air operators.
FACT 3. Any credible Flight Training School should be able to guarantee graduation of a pilot in not more that one and a half years and not the three to four years published in one of the local dailies.
FACT 4. Depending on the sophistication of the aircraft operated by air operators, only a maximum of 6 months is needed to put these FTS graduates through additional transitional training to become fully qualified pilots on the specific aircraft type.
FACT 5. Hard working Kenyan parents continue to SACRIFICE and INVEST in their children’s future by sponsoring their enrolment in Flight Training Schools in the belief that they will attain gainful employment upon graduation. To put it into perspective, the investment cost is in excess of Kshs. 5million. These parents deserve better than seeing their children labour to get jobs while potential employers ‘import’ labour.
FACT 6. Contrary to belief, NO operator in Kenya offers cadet ‘sponsorship’ program. Any such previous program has since been transformed into a completely different program. For truth’s sake, we would like this to be portrayed in it’s correct context.
FACT 7. The Kenyan aviation market has a large pool of highly experienced, high flight-time pilots. Since time immemorial, these pilots have successfully been recruited to sustain the growth of several local airlines that have since experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. In addition many have since been
employed by new foreign airlines and major world carriers. Majority would rather be working for their country KENYA.
A casual inquiry into the above statements will easily confirm their accuracy. Any narrative contrary to the above is outrightly FALSE.
As the main catalysts of growth, major operators provide much needed highly skilled jobs to a country’s CITIZENS. The onus is on them to not only seek to retain the pilots within their ranks, but also deploy a patriotic, proactive and aggressive approach to recruitment by tapping into the blossoming local market as follows;
1. Develop and continue to mould First Officers/Co-pilots already in their employment in preparation for Captains’ role. This then guarantees a continued supply of Captains.
2. GENUINE and PRO-ACTIVE assimilation of pilots with extensive prior flying experience. This provides a steady and viable supply of experienced pilots, easily malleable to any operators SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) with the requisite experience to take up Captain positions in less than 2 years. 

Additionally, this serves to open up employment opportunities within the ranks of smaller operators to new graduate pilots.
3. Employment of pilot graduates to compliment the above categories.
This provides a fresh supply of youthful talent for future growth.

KALPA considers any claim that a qualified labour force does not exist presently in the country to be an unfortunate attempt to export jobs at the expense of well deserving KENYANS.
Finally, KALPA remains grateful to the Government of Kenya for not allowing such unpatriotic attempts by not issuing work-permits a few years ago when a major operator advanced a similar agenda. We remain convinced that this position remains unchanged.
The KENYAN GOVERNMENT has set the tone, KENYAN INVESTORS taken the initiative, KENYAN PROFESSIONALS and KENYAN PARENTS heeded the call...No KENYAN should be left behind! Vision 2030, here we come.
General Secretary & CEO
Capt. Ronald Karauri
10th May 2012

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