It’s been a long time since I have written about the blue bird. Our Blue Bird. I’m sure all of you have guessed by now what I’m talking about: Kuwait Airways. The other day, two young Kuwaiti pilots walked into Kuwait Times’ offices sore, angry and desperate. They thought it would be a solace if an English newspaper wrote about their saga.
I could not believe what they had to say – that a national company would treat Kuwaiti citizens and trained pilots like this. In simple mathematics, these young pilots worked long years for our national carrier. When the privatization plan came up in 2008, these pilots were given a choice to stay with the new company – once it is created – or move to the government sector or retire.
Thirty-seven pilots chose the government sector because they were insecure and uncertain about the future of KAC after privatization. And by the way, till now no one has a clear story whether Kuwait Airways is fully privatized or not. Employees of the airline are still considered government employees. So how is that privatization?
According to these pilots, they were transferred to the government sector with only two weeks’ notice and without all the benefits and incentives that they had earned while in service. They feel that their future and their careers are finished – because what will commercial airline pilots do in a ministry office? Answer phones? Drink chai and read the newspaper?
Guys, these are well-trained pilots who love their careers and want to fly for their national airline. They felt even more hurt when they heard the airline is recruiting pilots from Afghanistan, Libya and from everywhere else, and not at lower salaries or fewer privileges. Meanwhile, these Kuwaiti pilots are sitting at home, devastated. The pilots do not blame the management of KAC – they are just hoping that someone with common sense and logic will take their problem seriously and help them. We invite KAC to respond, if they wish, and clarify the situation if we are mistaken.
Have a good day.
By Badrya Darwish