New Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph when he paid Kenya airlines pilots association Secretary Gen Paul Githinga a courtesy call a day after calling off their planned strike. Photo: Courtesy/Twitter
Kenya Airways have formally announced the appointment of former Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph as its chairman.
In a statement, the airline said Joseph was appointed board chairman today to replace Dennis Awori, who “resigned to pursue other interests.”
“On behalf of the board of directors of Kenya Airways and staff, I wish to take this opportunity to thank Amb. Awori for his able leadership and dedication to the Airline at a very difficult time. Under his leadership, the Board and Management have put in place Operation Pride, our turnaround programme that includes measures that in the long run will enable the airline to strengthen its balance sheet and resume shareholder returns. The initiatives put in place under Operation Pride have started to bear fruit with a significant improvement in the financial performance of the company compared to a similar period last year,” Managing Director and CEO Mbuvi Ngunze said in the statement.
Speculation had been rife that Joseph, who recently joined the board, was poised to take over after Awori announced he would be leaving.
At the time, the airline was under siege after the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) threatened industrial action if Awori and Ngunze fail to resign, accusing them of failing to turn around the company’s fortunes after a two-year streak of losses amount to about Sh50 billion.
Then, as now, Kenya Airways defended the two, saying Operation Pride was on course. The programme seeks to enable the airline gain at least Sh20 billion in value from increasing revenue and cost cutting.
Global consulting firms McKinsey and Seabury are spearhead a revival strategy that involves retrenchment of staff, fleet downsizing and reorganisation of routes. In addition, fligts to China and India were put off and the airline leased out or offloaded its Boeing 777 and 787 jetliners. Pilots, however, dispute its success.
It took high-level government intervention, including State House for the pilots to call of their strike.
Joseph’s new status was all but confirmed when he presided over a press conference to call off the strike. Currently, he is the director of mobile money at Vodafone Group Services Ltd in London where he is responsible for leading the strategic growth and development of successful M-Pesa proposition across the Vodafone footprint.
The phenomenal success of the mobile money transfer service in Kenya took place during his stewardship of Safaricom.
While welcoming his appointment, Ngunze said: “We have no doubt that under his leadership and guidance, with the support of management, staff and the board, the airline will steer to greater heights.
Meanwhile, the company will tomorrow present to investors and the media, results of the company’s half year performance ended September, 2016.
To counter the strike threat, Kenya Airways had hinted that the results will be positive.
“Our half-year results to be released at the end of this month reflect an increase of 89,000 guests to 2.23 million compared to the same period last year, an improvement in cabin factor by 3 per cent to 71 per cent, an operating profit improvement of Sh2 billion and a reduction in net losses of Sh7 billion, from Sh12 billion to Sh5 billion,” the management said as it fought to defend its turnaround strategy.
Here is Ngunze’s statement in full: