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