Ngunze to exit Kenya Airways by March 2017

Ngunze to exit Kenya Airways by March 2017
Kenya Airways chief executive officer Mbuvi Ngunze address investors during the release of their full year earnings results in the capital Nairobi, July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

After a rocky stint at the helm of national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ), Chief Executive Officer Mbuvi Ngunze is set to step down after only two years in charge.

Mr Ngunze is expected to leave the airline by March 2017.

His exit from the airline comes amidst calls from both political and internal circles to overhaul the airline’s management owing to its poor financial performance.

In a statement KQ board chairman Michael Joseph said he regretted the decision taken by the CEO arguing he had taken appropriate steps to stem the bleeding and return the airline back to profitability.

“Mbuvi has led KQ during an extremely challenging period, but nonetheless brought his unique leadership skills to bear, ensuring that the airline stayed afloat, leading from the front in negotiations with financiers and critical partners, and launching the turnaround which has achieved key milestones,” Mr Joseph said.

The announcement comes barely three weeks after Mr Joseph stressed that the outgoing CEO remained crucial to his turnaround plan given his vast engagement with creditors and potential investors.

The chairman said a recruitment process to appoint the next CEO had already commenced, with plans to pick a new head with relevant aviation experience.

Mr Ngunze is expected to stay on until his successor is appointed to avoid leaving a power vacuum.

“Mbuvi is fully committed to this and will remain focused on delivering this before his departure and in ensuring a successful transition. Through this, we will end up with a company which is deleveraged, has a better rating, and one that is able to attract new capital,” he said.

This marks the second high profile exit from Kenya Airways after former chairman Amb Denis Awori was forced out to pave way for the appointment of the former Safaricom boss as chairman.

Mr Ngunze joined the airline back in 2011 as the Chief Operating Officer before being picked to replace long serving CEO Titus Naikuni.

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