AVIATION

KQ board ponders over Kenyan CEO

The interview process to find a prospective successor to Sebastian Mikosz started in September.

In Summary

•The Polish manager is expected to part ways with the airline about two weeks from now.

•Most recent Kenyan KQ bosses includes former CEO Mbuvi Ngunze who left in May 2017 and Titus Naikuni who left in 2014 after an 11-year stint, one of the longest serving executives.

Kenya Airways Plane.Photo/File
Kenya Airways Plane.Photo/File

The Kenya Airways board is mulling over a local to steer the national carrier, the Star has learned, as current Chief Executive Sebastian Mikosz's exit nears.

The Polish manager is expected to part ways with the airline about two weeks from now (December 31), which is five months earlier than the end of his three-year contract.

“The board is considering a Kenyan for the job, if it gets someone qualified why not,” a source familiar with the board's processes told the Star.

Chairman Michael Joseph has however held is cards close as the board ponders over Mikosz replacement, which will see a new leadership at the loss-making carrier.

“The whole process is underway. That is all I can say for now,” Joseph told the Star on telephone.

The interview process to find a prospective successor to Mikosz started in September.

“We are interviewing in the next few weeks and we will make an announcement when we make the decision. So it's under way,” Joseph had said.

KQ, as it is known by its international code is likely to go the Safaricom way which settled for Peter Ndengwa who was announced in October, becoming the first Kenyan to head the telco. His appointment will take effect from April 1, 2020.

Joseph is the current interim CEO at Safaricom, a position he assumed after the demise of former CEO Bob Collymore who died on July 1. He defended the appointment of Ndegwa, a Kenyan, to head the telco.

Mikosz's exit will end a two year stint of an expatriate leadership at the carrier.

"It is my personal decision and I have obviously discussed it with the board," Mikosz said when he announced his exit.

The former president and CEO of LOT Polish Airline, one of the oldest airlines in the world, was hired on May 4, 2017 to help turnaround KQ's fortunes which has remained in losses for the past five years.

His more than 20 years of professional experience in managing private and public firms was touted as the experience needed to steer KQ out of losses.

However, the airline has remained in the red having reported a Sh8.6 billion loss in six months (January 1 to June 30) which was a slip from Sh4.03 billion reported in a similar period last year.

During protests over KQ take over of JKIA in March, the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) accused “foreigners” of mismanaging local entities.

“They will run down everything then board a flight and go back home and leave us with our own problems,”Kawu secretary general Moss Ndiema claimed.

Kenya Airways shocked observers in 2015 when it announced a record Sh25.7 billion loss. In 2016, it got even worse with an even higher figure of Sh26.2 billion.

Recent Kenyan KQ bosses includes former CEO Mbuvi Ngunze who left in May 2017 after two years of a turbulent reign at the airline.

Mbuvi had succeeded Titus Naikuni who left in 2014 after landing the top job in 2003.