Kenya Airways chief executive Mbuvi Ngunze’s resignation has paved the way for the return of an expatriate to the cash-strapped national carrier’s corner office.
Michael Joseph, the airline’s board chairman, yesterday told the Business Daily that a “worldwide” search is on for an aviation expert to take over the hot seat that Mr Ngunze will be vacating after just two years.
The former Safaricom CEO said the airline’s new boss, who could be in office as soon as April next year, “is likely to be an expatriate” who has wide knowledge of and experience in the aviation sector.
“This search is global. I honestly do not think we have a local person with the experience we are looking for,” said Mr Joseph in a telephone interview.
Brian Davies, a Briton, was the last expatriate chief executive at Kenya Airways for the seven years to 1999.
Mr Davies, who was at the helm when the government privatised KQ (as the national carrier is known by its international code) in 1996, won many accolades for his performance and has recently received positive mentions at Senate hearings investigating KQ’s current financial misfortunes.
“We shall, however, consider everybody; nobody will be locked out. But it is very likely that the person we shall settle on for the position of CEO will be an expatriate,” added Mr Joseph.
Richard Nyaga took over after Mr Davies’ exit and was succeeded by Titus Naikuni, who headed the company for 11 years until two years ago.
Brian Presbury was acting CEO for a short stint before Mr Naikuni’s appointment.
A statement issued yesterday indicated that the recruitment of the new KQ boss has commenced and that the process is likely to be complete in the next three months.
Mr Ngunze, who has been at the helm since December 2014, is expected to step down by end of March next year — ending his career at the national carrier which he joined as chief operating officer five years ago.
His exit is a big win for the airline’s pilots who early last month threatened to go on strike to push for the resignation of the KQ chief executive and then chairman, Dennis Awori.
The pilots, through the Kenya Airlines Pilot Association (Kalpa), have accused the two individuals of mismanaging the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm, leaving it desperate for a bailout of approximately Sh60 billion.READ MORE