Kenya Airways (KQ, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta) has fired over 70 contracted staff working for the airline, according to reports on the KDR TV news channel.

The employees were recommended to the airline by recruitment firm Career Directions Limited (CDL) and had worked in the airline's ground handling department.

The loss-making national career has hired over 1,000 staff through various recruitment agencies such as CDL, as well as Insight Management, Tradewinds Aviation Services, Preferred Personnel Africa and Strami. Two years ago, Kenya Airways announced that it was implementing more restrictive new terms for contract workers, including more stringent background checks.

These dismissals come barely two weeks after the airline announced a new acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Allan Kilavuka, who had previously been the CEO of Jambojet (JM, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta), a Kenya Airways subsidiary for around a year. Former CEO Sebastian Mikosz left the airline late last month citing, among other reasons, his inability to reduce Kenya Airways' workforce.

"The biggest enemy when you are restructuring are not outside (forces). I’m actually not afraid of Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l), I’m afraid of this (internal setbacks),” he told The Nation newspaper adding that the carrier's workforce had actively moved to scuttle his reforms.

He cited instances where engineers who had gone on strike over pay and were fired, were able to secure a court order restoring their roles on grounds that there would be no one to maintain the carrier's fleet.

He also stated that when Kenya Airways tried to hire 850 contract staff through CDL, CDL itself along with Africa Cargo Handling Limited and Insight Management filed a claim of KES68 million (USD674,000) as severance pay for early termination of their contract. The three firms are listed as interested parties in a suit by the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) against the process.