July 16, 2024

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KENYA AIRWAYS’ USD272M OPERATING LOSS: Pilots demand new management to effect a turnaround

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Kenyans commemorating the end of a struggle

Kenya Airways Pilots Association, KALPA, has recommended a total overhaul of the airline’s management and its board of directors, as a means to mitigate the over Sh38.26 billion (circa $272m) loss recorded by the national carrier as at December 2022, and possibly lay the processes and procedures for returning the national airline to profitability.

KALPA executive council member, Mwenda Mabura, gave the suggestion while presenting the pilots’ position paper before Kenya’s Senate Standing Committee on Trade, Industrialization and Tourism, on Tuesday in Nairobi.

Mabura, said the association believes the airline is able to end its loss-making streak if necessary steps are taken such “as assembling a new set of departmental heads as well as a new Chief Executive Officer, CEO, should be hired in a competitive, transparent and fair process”.

KALPA, an umbrella association for pilots in Kenya Airways expressed doubts through Mabura, that the management of Kenya Airways can turn around the fortunes of the loss-making airline.

He said several plans to return the airline to profitability by the current management ever since the airline relapsed into dire strait, “have not been successful and are most unlikely to bear fruits”, Mabura told the senate committee members.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive (MD/CE) of Kenya Airways, Mr. Allan Kilavuka

Mabura declared, “I don’t believe the board and management can make the national carrier bounce back to profitability”.

He thus announced the Pilots position for returning the airline to profitability by saying, “A new leadership team is needed which has a different management style; people who will augur well with the employees on the ground and instill the confidence that the Kenyan taxpayers need to invest in the company.”

On the method to adopt in engaging a new set of leadership for KQ, Mabura reiterated that “a new set of departmental heads, as well as the CEO, should be hired in a competitive, transparent and fair process. Competent and qualified Kenyans should be given priority,” he said.

He asked what was achieved by the employment of five expatriates in 2015. He also noted that the hired expatriates were mandated to facilitate business recovery and end insolvency yet, nothing substantial was achieved despite the humongous investment in purported highly skilled manpower.

Hence, Mabura told the committee that the airline’s management “need to tell us why they hired five groups of expatriates all at once. What did they achieve and how much did it cost? They should tell us,” he stated.

Kenya Airways Cargo. Flowers floras

Mathew Karimi, another executive council member of KALPA, said stakeholders had since been of high expectations and were “hoping to see positive and profitable action one day.”

Karimi disclosed that “A lot of people want to see action. Losses are pilling yet nobody is being held accountable,” he lamented.

Making his own contribution before the committee, the Senator representing the Busia region, Okiyah Omtatah, said KQ had since been recording losses because the management had been taking care of the vested interests of some individuals at the expense of the fortune of the national airline.

Omtatah affirmed that “The ideas are there”. And the befuddled Senator asked, “Why are they not being implemented? The board and management comprise of people who know what needs to be done,” he enthused.

Senator Omtatah however, conjectured the possibility of saboteurs among the board and management who were working against the progress of the national airline, and declared that “the saboteurs must be exposed.”

Recall that about 24 hours before the committee’s hearing, the CEO, of Kenya Airways, Allan Kilavuka, unveiled the management’s new plans to transit from Embraer and Bombardier aircraft in favour of Boeing airplanes as part of its mono-fleeting strategy.

Kilavuka gave the rationale for the new approach that, it will help in achieving KQ’s fleet optimization and network plan to cut costs and improve efficiency.

He explained that mono fleeting will reduce fleet operational maintenance and training costs for crew, engineers, and equipment.

The current KQ fleet consists of a mix of owned and leased planes, including wide-body jets like the Boeing 787, narrow-body jets such as the Boeing 737, Embraer regional jets, Bombardier Dash 8-400 jets, and Boeing 737 freighters.

Total losses recorded by the national carrier- KQ – stood at Sh38.26 billion, about USD272m, as at December 2022.

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