ROUTES TO BE CUT AND FREQUENCIES TO BE REDUCED AS OPERATIONAL CHALLENGES MOUNT
(Posted 12th September 2019)
When Sebastian Mikosz was hired in mid 2017 as Kenya Airways’ CEO, he presented himself as a miracle worker in similar fashion as his Chairman of the Board, luring the Kenyan public into the belief that he could turn the loss making airline around and lead the once respected carrier back to being the Pride of Africa for real and not just by slogan.
Fast forward to September 2019 and the charade has all but collapsed and things look as dire as ever before.
Failed in his plan to raid the Kenya Airport Authority’s cash kitty earlier this year through a ‘merger‘ did he all but admit – when parliament in Nairobi shot down his plans in flames – that he did not know how else to reverse the decline.
August 2019 turned out to be one of the worst operational months in Kenya Airways’ history, with dozens of flight cancellations and a pile up of delays, which played into the hands of the airline’s regional rivals such as RwandAir and the recently launched Uganda Airlines, which has made inroads in claiming market share on their route from Entebbe to Nairobi.
The loss of market share on the crucial regional market, where fare levels were unreasonably high, is bound to worsen KQ’s financial position, after reporting a whopping 8.5+ billion Kenya Shillings loss for the first half of the current financial year. This must be seen against Mikosz reportedly earning an equally whopping nearly 63 million Kenya Shillings in 2018, almost 16 million Kenya Shillings more than in 2017.
Mikosz, as ATCNews had repeatedly suggested before it actually happened, quit his job way ahead of the end of his term, having run out of ideas and losing support on board level too, where in particular the bank representatives have become restive over the constant drop in market value of the Kenya Airways shares, now trading at a meagre 2.53 Kenya Shillings.
It is understood that Mikosz may after all have left even earlier than he had said he would were it not for the upcoming IATA Regional Aviation Forum for Africa, which is taking place on the 17th of September. With Kenya Airways as the host airline did Mikosz not want to let the opportunity go to one last time present himself from his sunniest side, perhaps polishing up his image a little as he goes job hunting.
Behind the scenes at the airline is the mood reportedly depressed, more so as a pilot shortage now bites the airline too after their CEO took aim at them in March this year and more of them left for greener pastures.
Reports from Nairobi suggest that the airline, in a desperate move to bridge the gap, is aiming to recruit up to 20 pilots on two year contracts though informed sources have promptly suggested that KQ would need at least 60 new pilots to effectively fly the fleet of aircraft they presently have.
Talk of route cuts and possible frequency reductions come against the background of adding routes during 2019, which seems to have taken place against better judgement given the shortage of pilots was already obvious. With passengers now leaving the airline for competitors in increasing numbers are more storm clouds piling up over the company’s Embakasi head quarters.
With Mikosz now all but gone is the public’s anger progressively turning against the board, which until very recently had not even launched the search for a new CEO, raising questions about the effectiveness of the present board composition, starting with the Chairman. Michael Joseph, during Mikosz’s early days in Embakasi, appeared like joined at the hips with him only to move progressively away as bad results continued to come in and as it became evident that no turnaround within the suggested time frame could be accomplished. It was in fact embattled Joseph who according to insider information cast the deciding vote to accept Mikosz’ resignation as the board, under his ‘leadership‘ was split down the middle.
Quo Vadis Kenya Airways?