Ambassador Dennis Awori has resigned as Kenya Airways’ (KQ) chairman after 11 months and has been replaced by former Safaricom chief executive Michael Joseph.
Major shareholders of the airline, Treasury and KLM, have made the boardroom change in line with a promise they made to KQ employees that heads would roll at the NSE-listed firm before the end of this month.
Transport Secretary James Macharia, while announcing Mr Awori’s resignation and his successor, reiterated that those found culpable of “theft and corruption” at KQ will be prosecuted where “the evidence is strong enough.”
“Mr Awori has been replaced by Mr Joseph who has extensive international experience and is best known as the founding CEO of Safaricom,” Mr Macharia said in a statement.
“On behalf of the government as the major shareholder of KQ, I thank Mr Awori for his leadership and dedication to the airline during his tenure and welcome Mr Joseph to complete the turnaround,” he added.
The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa), which is made up of about 400 KQ pilots, had threatened to go on strike last week if Mr Awori and the airline’s chief executive Mbuvi Ngunze do not resign.
They accused the duo of a list of harmful decisions including costly agreements the airline entered with travel agents, the sale of aircraft at throwaway prices and irregular leasing of others without securing proper documentation.
They also criticised the airline’s management for selling prime London parking slots that were at the core of KQ’s attractiveness to London-bound business travellers as well as staying in an unprofitable relationship with Dutch carrier KLM.
The government, in a deal that roped in State House, managed to get the pilots to defer the strike with the promise that a major management shakeup would happen by the end of this month.
KQ is scheduled to release its half-year results this Thursday.