How Kenya Airways is eating hopeless SAA's lunch

While South African Airways (SAA) continues to suck billions in bail-out money from the fiscus, Kenya Airways is thriving. 

The airline may hire as many as 100 pilots annually as the company grows its fleet and adds as many as 20 new routes in the next five years, CEO Sebastian Mikosz said.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest carrier is facing “significant operational challenges” and needs as many as 70 additional first officers and 50 captains to operate its current fleet of 40 aircraft, along with new aircraft it plans to acquire, Mikosz said.

The airline is preparing to take back five aircraft subleased to Oman Air Transport and Turkish Airlines, from October, and needs more people to fly them, he said.

“We believe this is the only way to use the fleet we are getting back and eventually any new fleet, and we have to do it now,” Mikosz said in an interview in the capital, Nairobi. The company has trained 80 pilots so far, and is exploring the hiring of foreign pilots on contract terms to plug the gap created by retirements, departures and resignations.

Under attack

As Kenya Airways flourishes, SAA appears to be mired in more and more trouble. It recently emerged that the SAA Technical division is under siege from a syndicate stealing aircraft components which‚ if not nipped in the bud‚ has the potential to collapse the airline.

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