Kenya Airways Chief Executive Mbuvi Ngunze is set to leave the airline early next year as new chairman Michael Joseph appears to be hastening efforts to steady the troubled company.
In a statement, Joseph announced that Mbuvi, who doubles as Group Managing Director, will be leaving in the first quarter of 2017 two years since his appointment.
While Joseph said that Mbuvi’s departure is as a feeling that it was a natural point in the company’s evolution to pass the baton, the CEO’s resignation has been a matter of when and not if since pilots threatened to stage a debilitating strike last month to force changes at the top.
The strike threat saw the departure saw the departure of former chairman Dennis Awori and his replacement by Joseph, a former successful CEO at Safaricom, in whom the government appears to have put its faith as it works to turn around Kenya Airways’ fortunes after a two years of massive losses.
In his statement, Joseph said the selection of the next CEO will be a thoughtful process led by himself and the board’s governance and nominations committee, which will focus on producing the right outcome to lead KQ into the next chapter.
“I hope to complete this process within the next 3 months and I have already started the process to search for and identify the right candidate with the relevant airline experience,” he said.
The statement contradicts his assertion early this month that Mbuvi was there to stay for the foreseeable future as it is an indication his resignation is the culmination of ongoing changes at the national carrier.
“I have discussed this with the unions and they understand the situation that we are in. They have given us the necessary time to go through restructuring,” he had told on November 4.
However, in his statement Thursday, he said that it was the CEO’s decision to quit.
“While I regret this decision, I respect his position. Mbuvi will stay on until a successor is found which is expected to take some months,” he said before giving himself the three-month deadline.
From Joseph’s statement, it appears the company could resort to head-hunting rather than recruiting through an open process to identify the man or woman who will be tasked to fly the carrier out of the headwinds it has been facing.
Here is the statement in part: