By Watchdog reporter

At least 80 Kenya Airways workers have been sacked in the company’s first phase of rationalisation exercise which starts today, Friday. KQ bosses say this is a move in turnaround effort as the company seeks “a long-term sustainable financial structure for the airline”.

The company CEO Mbuvi Ngunze said that the retrenchment is in line with the “Operation Pride” to improve profitability and revisit the operating model and network.

He said, “Today, we will commence with the first phase of redundancies which will impact approximately 80 staff members”.

The 80 employees are part of the over 600 workers lined up for sacking in the coming weeks.

Mbuvi said the Operation Pride will deliver $200 million as KQ had cut down on expenditures, sale and sublease of aircraft, the reduction of waste in catering, and renegotiation of some contracts.

“We have made some difficult decisions to make substantial changes in all aspects of our business, including reducing our fleet in line with the current fiscal realities. It is in this light that we announced our intention to right-size the organisation to align with the reduced fleet size and improve the productivity of our staff across the network.”

Mbuvi said the affected employees will be laid off in accordance with labour laws.

The airline recently reported losses of Ksh25.7 billion and it has been facing serious financial mess  in the past one year.

Pilots have threatened to strike demanding the immediate resignation of CEO Mbuvi Ngunze over alleged mismanagement.