KQ slows down on job cuts un­der re­struc­tur­ing process

Kenya Air­ways chief ex­ec­u­tive Mbuvi Ngunze on Septem­ber 29 raised con­cern over high staff at­tri­tion due to poach­ing by deep-pock­eted Mid­dle East air­lines

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - CYN­THIA ILAKO @TheS­tarkenya

The na­tional car­rier Kenya Air­ways has slowed down on re­trench­ment pro­gramme it started in May tar­get­ing about 600 staff fol­low­ing wide con­sul­ta­tions from March, chief ex­ec­u­tive Mbuvi Ngunze has said.

Ngunze said the staff ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion pro­gramme, which saw 80 em­ploy­ees re­trenched in July un­der first phase, was not cast in stone and was sub­ject to re­view.

“We have re­trenched just un­der 100 since the start­ing of the re­trench­ment in May,” Ngunze said in an in­ter­view on Fri­day. “As things move, we keep on re-eval­u­at­ing our plans.”

The pro­gramme was launched four years af­ter the Nairobi Se­cu­ri­ties Ex­change’s listed firm fired 400 staff to partly cut op­er­a­tional costs in line with the air­line’s turn­around strat­egy.

Ngunze said the loss-mak­ing air­line, owned 29.8 per cent by the state, has sacked “slightly un­der 500 em­ploy­ees” in the last five years.

“The 600 iden­ti­fied for re­trench­ment were meant to cover both re­trench­ment and re­de­ploy­ment,” he said. “We are still a busi­ness in a re­struc­tur­ing process, so with num­bers chang­ing we might see a change in the num­ber of re­trench­ments.”

The CEO on Septem­ber 29 raised con­cern over high staff at­tri­tion due to poach­ing by deep-pock­eted Mid­dle East air­lines, a de­vel­op­ment that has in the re­cent months hit hard KQ’s tech­ni­cal de­part­ment.

“It is a mat­ter of con­cern and the board is aware of it, and we are look- ing at ini­tia­tives to re­tain peo­ple,” Ngunze had said.

Michael Joseph – the new board chair elected on Oc­to­ber 26 barely a month af­ter join­ing on Septem­ber 29 – said the air­line has de­cided to re­tain Ngunze af­ter wide con­sul­ta­tions with stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the pi­lots’ union. The Kenya Air­line Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion has been call­ing for his ouster since April.

“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,” Joseph told a me­dia briefing on Fri­day.

He said his pri­or­i­ties are strength­en­ing the man­age­ment team, tack­ling the com­pany’s debt through the con­tin­u­a­tion of the re­struc­tur­ing pro­gramme Op­er­a­tion Pride, and im­prov­ing morale of the staff.

Joseph said he has iden­ti­fied top man­age­rial ar­eas that need reshuf­fling, hav­ing spent “a lot of time with the man­age­ment team”.

“We need to look at ar­eas where we can strengthen peo­ple; whether in their ex­ist­ing jobs or whether we have to move them around,” the former Sa­fari­com CEO said. “This could take some time as it is not easy to fill all these po­si­tions in an air­line like Kenya Air­ways.”

Im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity is to hire a sub­stan­tive chief fi­nance of­fi­cer and di­rec­tor for hu­man re­sources.

Kenya Air­ways cut half-year net loss by 59.98 per cent year-on-year to Sh4.78 bil­lion on re­duced op­er­at­ing costs and an in­crease in pas­sen­ger num­bers by 89,000 to 2.2 mil­lion.

“I am per­son­ally de­ter­mined to re­store the Kenya Air­ways brand to its right­ful place,” Joseph said.

/ENOS TECHE

Kenya Air­ways chief ex­ec­u­tive Mbuvi Ngunze with the air­line’s new chair­man MIchael Joseph dur­ing the chair­man briefing at Pride Cen­tre on Fri­day

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