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Kenya Airways begins job cuts amid pandemic losses

South Sudan NEWS PORTAL (JUBA CITY)

FILE PHOTO: Kenyan Airways planes are parked at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, March 24, 2020. Picture taken March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

Kenya Airways has started a three-month round of job cuts as lawmakers in the country debate a bill that seeks to nationalize the carrier due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The process by the troubled airline is expected to be completed by 30 September, according to Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka in a memo to employees, seen by Bloomberg.

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The memo highlighted that the carrier was projecting a reduced demand for air travel after resumption of operations as travelers remain hesitant to resume normal lives.

“We have projected that demand is going to slow down to at least 50% between now and December,” Bloomberg quotes Kilavuka. “Our assets need to reflect that. Our operations need to reflect that, that goes without saying.”

The Bloomberg report notes that Kenya Airways employed 3,734 people by end 2019, with a total wage bill of 13.5 billion shillings ($126.6 million). That accounted for 11% of the airline’s total operating costs in the year. Passenger flights accounted for 81% of the airline’s revenue by the end of 2019, compared to 6.8% from cargo.

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Earlier this week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged African governments to reconsider mandatory quarantine requirements for travelers arriving in the continent in order to allow economies to restart.

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IATA noted that over 80% of travelers are unwilling to travel when quarantine is required, adding that the impact of these measures means countries remain in lockdown even if their borders are open.

The body warned that more than 8.6 million jobs in the Africa and Middle East airline industry and businesses supported by aviation are at risk due to the lockdowns in place.

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