Earlier on this year and for a significant period of January, KQ, otherwise known to may as Kenya Airways was under siege following its resolution to continue flights to and from China the ground zero of the Covid 19 virus. The once pride of Africa was being urged by Kenyans to follow suit, much like it’s regional peers Ethiopian airlines and Rwandan Air to cease passenger flights to and from the irate countries including Italy, and a large part of Europe. Unknown to many, KQ had reached the end of its wits and the malignance and incompetence of its board of directors were just about to unfold.
Usually when the name KQ is mentioned, what comes to the minds of frequent fliers is how carelessly they handle your luggage or how horribly disorganized they are. Tales are told of overbooking, and last minute flight cancellations without explanations or recourse for the disappointed clients. Those of us not familiar with journies in the skies and amongst birds, are well familiar with the court cases that have embattled KQ, if they are not being reprimanded for flaunting labour laws and practices, then it is usually them appealing to the court to bear with them. On fact the last time we heard of them, was when they unlawfully fired a whistleblower for recording and publicly posting an incident by KQ in which they were disobeying a court order. Even after the court ordered unconditional reinstatement of the said individual, KQ has apparently continued to frustrate him into quitting.
Once again, the cattle are bellowing bear KQ’s river, particularly the board’s. We can now all agree that it is the board’s unfamiliarity with their duties and obligations is what is so long KQ. Senior employees of the once giant airline has come out faulting the KQ board members for giving priority to profits over the welfare of the business. Sources close to us indicate that this is precisely why Michael Joseph had to be reappointed in the wake of dwindling economic prospects. In 2017 upon appointment into the KQ Board, Carol Musyoka and Martin Oduor proposed an expansion in the cargo freight department claiming, and rightly so, that it had untapped potential. Aramex and DHL are the known giants currently in that field and they felt perhaps the national courier could dip its toes in the water. These propositions were harshly rejected and almost created a rift within the board members. Majority felt that this was an unnecessary expense that would adversely affect the profit margins. The two were also heckled and thought to be agents of the prospective board chairman, Michael Joseph.
Barely two years have gone by and now the airline is bearing heavily on the weight of stupidity, belligerent incompetence, utter witlessness. Now that passenger planes are grounded and only cargo freighters are gracing the skies, KQ is lamenting, to whom you wonder. In addition to the shameless application for a possible government bailout, KQ has warned that it is set to let go of nearly 600 employees, 182 among them pilots and another 400 cabin crew members. In a previous interview, renowned economic strategist, David Ndii, estimated the cost of laying off on redundancy, an average pilot to cost about ksh. 30 million, imagine 182, and another 400 cabin crew. Downsizing alone could cost anywhere in the upwards of 60billion. The board chair Allan kilavuka said that the airline is working hard to resolve the problems it is facing but such efforts are curtailed by the covid-19 pandemic.
This only shows lack of preparedness at KQ and demonstrates high levels of incompetence. The pandemic has been a menace for only six months wherein KQ has been splurging in the negative glory since the earlier years of the new millennium, 2005 to be specific. Last year, it’s auditors questioned some Ksh. 54 million wired to the board further supporting the narrative of embezzlement of some kind. The calls to make KQ a parastatal are getting louder but others are suggesting that it be privatised in order to get proper management of its operational costs. Whichever resolution they arrive at, it is best that the board is completely done away with because it is the corporation’s biggest impediment.