Management shakeup looms at KQ

Kenya Airways
File Photo of a Kenya Airways plane mid-flight.

Senior management changes at Kenya Airways appear inevitable, as the Ministry of Transport looks to get the airline back on its feet.

Speaking in Brussels, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the ministry was working with the board of directors on the turnaround strategy, aptly dubbed ‘Operation Pride’.

“You’ve seen us asking people at senior levels to leave and so we shall be restoring capacity in terms of management of that very critical company to our country,” Mr Macharia said.

Casualties of the purge on senior managers include former Finance Director Alex Mbugua, while Human Resource Director Alban Mwendwa exited the airline in unclear circumstances. KQ’s director of flight operations Paul Mwangi also stepped down from his position but remains as an employ of the airline.

In April, the airline’s pilots staged a one day strike that paralyzed operations, calling for sacking of Chief Executive Officer Mbuvi Ngunze. This saw the government, which holds a 29.8 percent stake in the airline, hold an emergency meeting with the board and the pilots to resolve the impasse.

A deal brokered by both parties saw pilots go back to work while Mr Ngunze remained in office.

Mr Machaira was however non committal on whether the management changes would affect the CEO.

“That is not yet a matter which we can discuss right now. As I said we are reviewing the entire structure of management to make sure that we have the best people running that very key corporate,” he said.

Kenya Airways has been under severe financial strain, highlighted last year by its Sh25 billion loss. In the six months to September 2015, the airline announced a half year loss of Sh11.95 billion.

During the 2016/17 budget, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich did not allocate any funds towards the airline’s bailout, only saying the government was committed to reviving it.

Mr Macharia said not financing deal had been reached but injection of capital from a strategic investor remained a viable option. Several airlines from the Middle East and America are said to have expressed interest in taking a stake in the airline.

“What we are doing is to sit with the board of directors to see how we can help them raise money to restore the financial viability of the airline,” he said.

Kenya Airways is set to fire at least 600 employees in coming months as part of efforts to cut costs. The airline has also initiated a forensic audit into its operations with the aim of identifying if any employees were involved in financial misappropriation.

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