Kenya Airways has lost 130 pilots to Middle East airlines in the past one year because of poor pay, the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) has said.
The pilots association refuted claims by Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz that they were the best paid in Africa and that their compensation took a large share of the airlines' income.
The association told the National Assembly Transport and housing committee last week Kenya Airways had 430 pilots, 200 heads short of capacity.
They attributed the cash problems facing the carrier to high cost of tickets, poor management and high expatriates pay.
The pilot's association Secretary General Captain Mureithi Nyaga told the MPs that other international airlines have also been eyeing KQ engineers who are some of the trained in Africa.
"Our members have moved to the middle East airlines who are offering better packages, why are they not turning down the jobs if they are the best paid by KQ? asked Mr Nyaga.
The Secretary General told the committee chaired by Pokot South MP David Pkosing that pilots flying Boeing earn a gross salary of Ksh483, 350 ($4,834), those flying Embraer earn Ksh407,916 ($4,080).
In addition, captains get Ksh36,000 ($360) and first officers Ksh30,814 ($308) as house allowance. Pilots who fly outside the country get $200 as accommodation per night.
"I am not aware where the CEO of Kenya Airways got the Sh1.6m he was telling you about from," Mr Nyaga said.
Mr Mikosz had also told the committee pilots fly 533 hours in a year but Mr Nyaga put the time at 780 hours annually.
Mr Nyaga told MPs many expatriates at KQ are paid millions of shillings for minimal output.
"Kenya Airways has five expatriates from Israel being paid about Sh5 million ($50,000) per month, we don't know what exactly they do," Mr Nyaga told the committee.
The pilots also accuse KQ of charging high prices for their tickets hence losing customers to rival airlines such as Ethiopian airlines.
"In our view as pilots, the ticket prices are exorbitant and we don't understand how they do their calculations," Mr Nyaga said.
He also attributed the woes facing the airline to the poorly motivated staff, some of them on contract, and burnout.
"Some of their own staff are not happy and are even telling people to go to Ethiopian airline," Mr Nyaga said.
The pilots said they would only support a plan to merge Kenya Airways and the Kenya Airports Authority if it would secure jobs.