Poor passenger handling makes KQ lose battle it could win

Kenya Airways bosses bosses have zilch sense regarding how precious their passengers are

In Summary

• KQ management has become obsessed with its own "self-regarding act" of survival they have forgotten the passenger.

• I should approach the KAA as Kisumu Governor to put up a more presentable VIP station before 2021 in time for the Africities Conference.

A Kenya Airways plane
A Kenya Airways plane
Image: FILE

Although I have been a strong supporter of Kenya Airways, I am slowly giving up on the airline.

It has a hopelessly insensitive management: On the ground, in terminals, in the air, and in the competitive aviation business. 

A couple of years ago, while waiting to board a KQ flight from Entebbe to Nairobi one evening, my wife and I were shocked how casual the staff was regarding explaining why the flight was late, and why we had to stay in hotels overnight.

As it turned out, the so-called explanation was rather juvenile. We had been delayed due to "a technical hitch", which could not be rectified in time for the plane to take off and land at the JKIA before midnight.

When I inquired further from some of the crew who were equally disappointed, I was informed that such incidences were now "very common" with the late flight from Entebbe to Nairobi.

It was as if someone or some people were "trying to send a message" to top management at Kenya Airways. Apparently, this culture of "trying to send a message" has not changed.

This time, the message is not being sent to management; la sivyo! The message is being sent to los pasajeros — the passengers! Why do I say so? Let me recount to you yet another incident, this time at JKIA itself.

On Wednesday morning this week, I woke up early in Nairobi at 4 am to take the 6.15am flight to Kisumu. My guests, the Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA) and his deputy got to the airport ahead of me, checked in and proceeded to board the plane.

Arriving at the departure gate in a hurry to catch up with them, I discovered a menacing shower that made it rather nasty to walk to the plane parked close to 200 meters away!

I wondered why KQ management did not have the courtesy to provide us with a bus to take passengers to the plane in view of the awful weather! Someone in KQ was sending us passengers a message: "You have no alternative to fly except on our terms!"

Getting to the plane almost drenched I was livid! I started telling the crew staff a piece of my mind when I realised, rather belatedly, how innocent these creatures were.

The problem was not them but their bosses, who had zilch sense regarding how precious their passengers are.

And then when you are told how much they earn per month, God help us! So much money just to display such a gross sense of negligence and utter business stupidity! Come on KQ management.
Kisumu Governor Any'ang Ny'ong'o

Zero sense I tell you. A little thing like keeping a bus ready for passengers to get to a plane 200 meters away escapes a General Manager, a Station Manager, a Public Relations Manager, you name them!

You will never catch up with the likes of Emirates at this rate!

But why was I so mad? It was not simply because I had been rained on but more because my two guests, coming from the UCLGA, were in Kenya to assess how ready we are to host the 9th Edition of Africities Conference in Kisumu in November 2021.

By this terrible passengers treatment by KQ my guests could easily doubt the competence of our airport to provide good reception and send off for our guests in 2021. You dig? 

When I chaired the Senate Select Committee on Kenya Airways in the last Parliament, we recommended that KQ's future could only be guaranteed if it joined hands with Kenya Airports Authority in a sound business deal that could see KQ/JKIA function as one business entity the Emirates/Dubai way.

But then the management of KQ needed to demonstrate sound business acumen and culture before leaping into this innovative venture.

There is absolutely no way in which this leap can be taken when KQ managers have zero sense of how to treat their most precious business partner: The passenger.

I am, therefore, slowly becoming rather sceptical of the edifice of KQ management.

What management substance are these guys made of? As my friend, Justice Richard Otieno Kwach, would wittingly ask: Where did they go to school?

What Kwach really means is that going to some "real" schools, and not "generic" schools, leads one not only to learn something but to imbibe some civic culture, some sense of public duty and some daily demonstration of appreciating "other-regarding acts" and not simply "self regarding acts."

KQ management has become obsessed with its own "self-regarding act" of survival they have forgotten the passenger, their most precious commodity in this very challenging aviation trade.

This is tragic and comical; in short tragicomical! You laugh at the foolishness of management while you feel pain for the passenger who must suffer to get the services from such a non-caring airline. What a pity!

Let us get our facts straight. KQ earns a hell lot of money from their domestic routes, particularly the Kisumu one.

And KQ must, in return, pay a hell lot of landing fees to KAA in return. Both companies are making a hell lot of money from us passengers. And they don't care much for our welfare. Let me flood you with a few more examples.

It has not occurred to KAA that the VIP room at the Kisumu International Airport no longer reflects its reputation as being international.

It is too small, too unimpressive and just too crowded. Receiving an international VIP there makes one feel woefully apologetic. 

Methinks that I should approach the KAA as governor of Kisumu so that I can put up a more presentable VIP station before November 2021 in time for the Africities Conference.

My business plan is sound and would benefit all stakeholders, including the passenger users themselves. But having proposed that I would not like to forget the awful VIP room at the domestic terminal 1D at JKIA.

Surely KQ, is your management oblivious to the fact that your own exponential growth in passengers should have entailed doing something about the growing limited space in this VIP room?

There is something called refurbishment, renovation and expansion in an industry like transport and hospitality.

How come KQ management is embarrassingly unaware of all that? Surely if my two passenger's eyes can see what seems to be obvious every day I pass through terminal 1D, how come KQ and KAA have remained insensitive to the changes needed? 

Cry the suffering passenger!

The writer is the Kisumu Governor.