Chief executive of Kenya Airways quits

Chief executive of Kenya Airways quits

A new head of Kenya Airways is expected to be appointed within three months after its chief executive quit.

Mbuvi Ngunze resigned from the loss-making carrier three weeks after being declared “vital” to its turnaround by new chairman Michael Joseph.

Ngunze is leave the airline in the first quarter of 2017 after two years in the job.

Joseph, who became chairman last month after a staff rebellion over the perceived slow pace of reform, said a new chief executive would have “the relevant airline experience,” the Financial Times reported.

The African carrier has been left with about $1.4 billion of debt following a failed expansion plan six years ago, which was undermined by a slump in passenger numbers after terrorist attacks and the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

After two years of record-breaking losses, the company reduced its net loss to Ks5 billion ($49 million) in the first half of this financial year, down from Ks12 billion in the same period last year. This was on the back of a 4% rise in passenger numbers and an increase in load factor from 68% to 71%.

Joseph took over as chairman after pilots and other staff threatened to strike over their dissatisfaction with management.

He said earlier this month that Ngunze was “vital” to the rebuilding operation that initially would focus on debt reduction and improving its cash position.

Announcing Ngunze’s departure, Joseph said he wanted to “end up with a company which is deleveraged, has a better rating, and one that is able to attract new capital”.

He expects to start discussions with strategic investors, including the Kenyan government which owns 29.8% of the airline, in the second quarter of next year.

The former Vodafone executive has already started renegotiating some aspects of Kenya Airways’ relationship with Air France-KLM, which owns 26.7% of the carrier, and patched up relations with the pilots.


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